The Unicorn Hunts for Magic in a Fantastical, if Thin, ‘Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibility’

Joshua Gleeson and Elise Poehling in Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibility

Joshua Gleeson and Elise Poehling in Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibility (Cynthia Levin/Unicorn Theatre)

A new play having its premiere at the Unicorn Theatre explores the idea of a world rooted in real magic, accessible to those willing to risk everything to find it.

In Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibility, Chris (typically played by Elise Poehling, though Erdin Schultz-Bever stepped in as a last-minute replacement for opening due to illness, giving an impressively seamless performance) is a self-proclaimed adventurer. Dylan (Joshua Gleeson) is her extreme opposite, utterly adventure-adverse. Dylan’s parents, who were adventurers themselves, disappeared in the Amazon when he was a young child and ever since, he has worked hard to curate a life without risk or danger.

In fact, as a life insurance agent, Dylan is able to punish others for anything he deems even slightly risky. But when he accidentally approves a multi-million dollar policy for Chris right before she sets out on a perilous journey, he’s forced to chase after her to try to stop her from going—until, that is, the two begin to bond and the adventure spirit starts to rub off on him.

Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibility isn’t specifically marketed as a show for children, and at least one scene involving a sudden death would likely prove too disturbing for many younger viewers, which is a shame because it seems nearly tailor-made for young audiences. The journey Chris has embarked on is to visit the world’s poles of inaccessibility—a real phenomenon marking the most remote points according to various geographical criteria, but which Chris believes house the last bits of magic in the world. Bradley Meyer’s set, made up of staggered platforms standing in for everything from hills to ocean liners, accentuates an overall whimsical sense of playing make-believe. 

Visiting all seven of the world’s poles causes some pacing issues in Craig Pospisil’s script, feeling overstuffed and bogged down at times, followed by an overly twist-heavy second act. But Gleeson and Schultz-Bever’s chemistry is captivating and the rest of the cast (Jense Cook, Vi Tran, Fransisco Javier Villegas, and Mateo Moreno, playing multiple characters each), under the direction of Heidi Van, drive the show with electric energy.

The play may feel geared toward younger audiences but a fantastical premise, charismatic cast, and solid staging means it has plenty to offer to audience members of all ages who enjoy supporting new works and who take joy in a little whimsy.

Journey to the Poles of Inaccessibilityruns through December 22 at the Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St. For more information, call 816-531-7529 or visit unicorntheatre.org.

Vivian Kane

Vivian Kane is a writer living in Kansas City. She covers pop culture and politics for a national audience at The Mary Sue and theatre and film locally, with bylines in The Pitch. She has an MFA in Theatre from CalArts.

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