Balloon Boutique

This show claims to use “extreme balloon modelling” and this is as much of a joke as its claim to be a “stunning piece of physical theatre for all ages”. Wearing somewhat unnerving masks the show begins slowly, an old woman contemplating life while another figure wriggles around in a massive body balloon. With a balloon that size this had to be a good show, with all kinds of mayhem and fun. Sadly no, the large balloon was discarded straight away along with most of the entertainment. The balloon shaping ability of this cast of two, who clearly believe themselves to be apt enough to put a show with their abilities, unfortunately have only accomplished the early stages of the talent, inflation and popping. How deflating. The show was conducted in mime which worked appallingly, the stage presences were unsuitable and it became jarring to watch the clunky and edgy movements used in an attempt to fill the tedium. The old lady at the start was unnervingly maltreated by her husbands’ repeated condescending mimes. Her actions on-stage gave more of a sense of dementia than what it was attempting to convey, a longing for a happier life. Suddenly the show reverts to the past. We move to a beach in the 1950’s crudely represented by an old radio and dull selection of Elvis Presley tracks. The music was jumpy enough to keep us on edge but contrasted poorly with the lack of anything interesting happening on-stage. The edgy and clunky mimes involved inflating a balloon to represent a beach ball, and apart from standing on the pretty balloons and making them go “pop” that was possibly the main feature of their “extreme balloon modelling” on-stage. The girl meets a character stereotyped straight out of Grease and they fall in love. From here the story gets a little odd. A child is represented using crude puppetry, but he explodes and is mourned by the John Travolta lookalike jumping up and down like a petulant child. It must have meant something, but the audience next to me had fallen asleep so they didn’t mind. This carried on to what I must staggeringly believe was the artificial balloon insemination of a balloon child that led towards a miserable balloon miscarriage. Oh dear. Now it transpires that it’s clearly not “theatre for all ages”. In the end he gives her lots of balloon puppies to compensate for his inability to inflate in the bedroom and she goes mad and turns into a spinster. Well that’s what I made of the story anyway. At the end they bring onto the stage a genuinely impressive 1950’s balloon motorbike in some kind of sick, “this is what you could have watched us make”, joke. At the end the mimes try to appeal to the children as they forgot to do that earlier. As a treat, children in the audience are handed the puppies which earlier tormented the mouldy old woman. Smile kids!

Reviews by Theo Barnes

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★★★★★

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★★★★

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Puppetry, masks, extreme balloon modelling. Start from nothing. Become everything. Then pop, wither or simply float away! A stunning piece of physical theatre for all ages, directed by John Wright, co-founder of Trestle. 'Great fun' (List). www.scratchbuilt.org.uk

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