What a totally unexpected delight is this silly, touching, noisy, energetic little show. Operation Greenfield was an acclaimed nugget on the Edinburgh Fringe last year, but you know how sometimes a new show, especially one involving comedy and loud music, is promoted beyond its true merit...
Well, that hasn’t happened here. Little Bulb Theatre is a vibrant quartet of Kent University graduates – plus a standing cut-out of Elvis in his gold lame suit – which lays down a thrilling shiver of a story about a bunch of no-hopers in Middle England winning a talent competition and preparing for Judgement Day.
When they explode into home-made music making – on guitar, accordion and very funny flute, driven along by Clare Beresford knocking nine bells out of her drum kit – it’s hard not to recall the surprise, liberating barbarity of another rock musical dealing in teenage angst and anxiety, Spring Awakening.
For this, too, is a story of discovery and fulfilment, of escape into self-expression, and into faith. The combination of village pageant and the usurpation of the Nativity Play is irresistible, like some bizarre mixture of adolescent Alan Ayckbourn and Def Leppard. At every point, you feel the performers have found the natural outlet for their talents.
Three of them – Eugenie Pastor (playing the new French girl in the village of Stokely, and the flute), Shamira Turner and Dominic Conway – look disarmingly similar, with scrawny tawny hair styles, no-nonsense noses and bendy limb movements, as if triplets had struck out violently, and perhaps in vain, to assert their own individuality. The ninety-minute show is completely original, quirky, unusual and true to itself, and well worth not missing.