Crocosmia

It is always exciting to find a young company at the Fringe who demonstrate real and tangible potential to create vibrant, vivid and affecting new work. Little Bulb Theatre are one such company and Crocosmia, ‘An explosion of fast-paced visual storytelling following the Brackenberg siblings and their attempts to make sense of the world’, is originally, ingeniously and shudderingly effective.

The Brackenberg siblings are twins Finnley and Sophia, both ten years old, and younger sister Freyja, who is not eight but rather seven and three quarters. They guide us through stories of their life at home and their relationships with each other, all the while trying to figure out where they fit into the world and what it means to be alive.

We see birthdays, Christmas, premature attempts at shaving, their Superficial Underwater Orchestra (or ‘Superfishy Underwater Orc’) and the gently but searingly told account of their parents’ death in a car crash. The Brackenberg siblings, much like this theatre company, are unusually perceptive for their age and so the knowingly naïve telling of these stories gives way to reveal wise and resonant insight into love and life and loss.

The stories are told through romantic slide shows, bulb experiments and, among other means, a whimsical piece of puppetry featuring the Battenberg Brackenberg Cake Community – two big Battenbergs for Ma and Pa Brackenberg, three miniatures for the three children, all of these being hurriedly eaten by the over-enthusiastic and cake-hungry storytellers.

Little Bulb Theatre’s storytelling methods are constantly inventive and the decision to background the show with the Brackenberg parents’ record collection is inspired. An unholy union of Bing Crosby, Sigur Ros, Bob Dylan and Cyndia Lauper somehow works immaculately well, each piece giving even greater texture to the scene it accompanies. The vivid and beautifully constructed scene where the Brackenberg children wait in the orphanage becomes crushingly sad when accompanied by Goldberg Variations, bringing tears to the cheeks of this cynical reviewer.

Then from tears to a great feeling of warmth, generated by the glowingly upbeat and colourful final scene. It’s Freyja’s birthday and, despite their looming grief, Finnley and Sophia enlist our help to make this celebration special. Balloons fill the stage, party horns sound and a glimmer of light returns to their eyes; a light so nearly extinguished by their parents’ death.

Much like the light bulb Freyja plants in the soil, which grows and never goes out, perhaps vivid imagination can indeed be a substitute for real loss, keeping memories blindingly alive in our minds.

Little Bulb Theatre are a glowing talent, promising to burn long and bright through the gloom for years to come.

Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

An explosion of fast-paced, visual storytelling following the Brackenberg siblings and their attempts to make sense of the world through cake puppetry, romantic slide shows, and ingenious bulb experiments, all backed by their parents' vintage record collection.

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