The Bubble Show For Adults Only starts innocently enough. Circus music plays, the man (Kurt Murray) is sat quietly in a ringleader’s red coat. A woman (Iulia Benze) comes in, keen to see some bubble tricks. She too, is reasonably dressed. This doesn’t last long. The childishness of the preview with its children’s bubble show antics is undercut by the fact that the lady enjoys the bubbles a little too much. As clothes begin to fly as quickly as bubbles are blown, it becomes very clear what kind of show this is going to be.
Equal parts funny, silly and delightful.
From here is a tour-de-force of stripteases, innuendos and acrobatics, all accompanied by a hail of bubbles flying around the stage or covering up particular body parts. Audience members are not safe in this cabaret of bubble mayhem, as Benze leaps from one participant to another with merciless, frenzied glee, with one lucky member being brought onstage for a bubble measuring contest with Murray. Benze performs extraordinary and sometimes painful-looking feats of gymnastics, and Murray demonstrates a neat delicacy with creating the bubble shapes that contrast well with the chaos of the show. It’s equal parts funny, silly and delightful.
What’s impressive about Bubble Show For Adults Only is that its comedy doesn’t just come from its sex jokes. It manages to pack in a neat variety of surreal and even psychedelic imagery that borders on the gothic and macabre. The adult content isn’t just sexual, it’s also artistic and in ways that would be inappropriate for children but quite daring for a late-night Fringe performance. The artistry isn’t as crowd-pleasing as the sex antics, but it’s certainly memorable and even beautiful. It’s burlesque in every sense of the word.
It’s not always as precise as might be hoped from a bubble-based show, but then that is the problem that all bubble performers need to contend with. As beautiful as bubbles are, they’re ephemeral and unreliable, so while it’s a shame when they pop prematurely, Benze and Murray do a great job of keeping the show going regardless.
The point of the show is to change our perception of bubbles, to strip away the childhood memories and replace them with images of sexuality and surreality. What’s fascinating is that, despite this intent, the magic of bubbles is still maintained, with grown adults instinctively jumping to catch at the bubbles with glee as they float above the audience seats. It shows that, deep down, our love of bubbles has never gone away, and that’s an encouraging thought.