Posts Tagged ‘Operation Greenfield’

 

18/05/11

Little Bulb Theatre have been quietly moving from strength to strength – Sporadical was my Edinburgh Fringe highlight, and their most notable success, Crocosmia highlighted the loss of innocence in a way that this show also touches on (though from a very different angle!). I thought it would be difficult to top the kind of runaway successes they have already enjoyed, but they seem to have done it again. From the over-enthusiastic, slightly crazed version of the prophecy of Isaiah, right through to final talent show performance, Operation Greenfield is a non-stop cannonball of a show.

Little Bulb’s latest offering tells the story of a Christian band, beginning humbly as a funk duo, but growing to a folk foursome. The band decides to embark on a quest to win their local village talent competition; they have been thwarted once already, and this time they are certain they are going to succeed. Unfortunately life and the trials of adolescence keep getting in the way.

This show is a joy from beginning to end. Daydream guitar solo’s, imaginary conversations with Elvis, and the temptations of smoking are all hurled into the melee as these four try to control the runaway train that is adolescence. My initial concerns about the piece appearing somewhat inconsistent were quickly put aside – this show might look chaotic and unplanned, but it certainly is not. The script cleverly uses the Christian faith, as well as pop culture to better explain the fixations and worries of youth.

There is a kind of soft-cynicism here that Little Bulb handle perfectly – they seem to attempt to keep proceedings two dimensional, but as their lives progress, the sincerity of the characters becomes increasingly clear. However, there are flaws to this production – it’s a little bit too long, and the company sometimes venture too far into indulgence at the expense of the story. The performance style also means that we never quite connect emotionally with these characters in a way that some might crave – but they are a young company, and these elements are something I can readily forgive when faced with such a joyous and anarchic show.

As with all of Little Bulbs shows, the musical element to this show cannot be faulted. Aside from the enviable recorded soundtrack, each member of the group plays multiple instruments, and the composition seen here wouldn’t be out of place on any festival stage this summer. I genuinely loved every song, and laughed with sheer delight as the group finally, and exuberantly, entered Stokeley talent competition.

One suspects that Little Bulb are getting away with quite a lot simply by being so darn endearing.  When watching them you can’t help but feel that they are all having tremendous fun – even when depicting the horror that is being a self-conscious adolescent. The performance mode lends a certain element of absurdity to the proceedings, with each character appearing as almost a caricature of themselves – squirming with awkward energy and delivering some gloriously deadpan dialogue with a wide eyed and startled expression that is simultaneously hilarious and touching.

This company is embarassingly talented and incredibly brave. In Operation Greenfield they have created a musical that highlights their numerous strengths, and creates a world for its audience that many will find worryingly familiar. It is silly, sublime, and essential viewing.

The show is at Soho Theatre until 4th June – Beg, borrow or steal for tickets if you have to, just make sure you don’t miss this glorious production.