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Squally Showers (Bristol)

Little Bulb's latest show comes to Bristol's Tobacco Factory as part of a national tour. It plays the Edinburgh Fringe (at Zoo Southside) from 2-24 August

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Squally Showers is the epitome of surreal. Set in the context of a 1980's television studio, the contrastingly futuristic silver and white set of headless mannequins, and shimmering sequins gives the piece a dreamlike quality.

Starting at the end, we are taken back to the character's younger selves to see how events play out in the run up to the final, disastrous broadcast.

The talented cast do a fantastic job of portraying a range of different personalities and attitudes of young adults in the decade of shoulder pads and perms.

Despite its many merits, at times you may start to question what the point of the production is. What are they getting at? The disjointed scenes and strange environment makes for an often confusing plot. However, rather than having a negative effect on the onlooker, it develops a sense of unexpected curiosity and leads you to really think about the message behind the quirky performances.

The soundtrack, boasting tunes such as Black's Wonderful Life, fits perfectly to the otherworldly interpretive routines, which lace the production. However, there are moments when it is necessary to strain in order to hear the dialogue, projected over the loud music.

A particularly poignant scene comes near the end of the show, as a member of the television crew sadly falls to her death. The scene is illustrated by Don McLean's Chain Lightning and replays the opening moments of this peculiar showcase. The music leads into a stunningly dramatic dance routine, enhanced by the clever use of bubble and wind machines.

Little Bulb have created a visually captivating exploration of personalities, attitudes and lifestyles. From the perfectly smug ‘high achieving, hard working, individuals with ambitions,' Brad and Sally Bradshaw to the bubbly and upbeat chain smoker with heaps of ambition, we are presented with characters to challenge our own ideals.

The award winning company performs each enactment of Squally Showers in a radically new form and thrives off audience feedback. The actors advise their audience that this is ‘the decade of all or nothing' and this clever farce of politics, power, loneliness and love illustrates that outlook impeccably.

As the play comes to a dramatic close, we hear the words, ‘television is a magical force… even if you are lonely, you have these friends in television. It has the ability to make the world a smaller place but fuller all at the same time'.

The message behind Squally Showers is entirely down to individual interpretation. The need to be loved and feel needed and the unnecessary pain of loneliness endured by every individual at some point in life, whether they are truly alone or not.

- Hannah Sweetnam