When I worked at C venues, the Bubble Man had an almost legendary status: he was a guaranteed sell-out every year. Unprepared parents would turn up 15 minutes before the show was about to start, desperate for a ticket and hang around competitively until the four reserves were released. It could get nasty. Clearly his popularity has not lessened, judging by the giant queues. Now in his seventh year at the Fringe, the Bubble Man (or Louis Pearl, as his friends and family might know him) has moved on to a bigger venue in the Assembly Rooms – in order to hopefully accommodate all of his fans – and his adoring flock have followed, pushchairs and all.
A technical difficulty occurred on the day I saw the show, meaning that we were delayed by 20 minutes and Pearl was left without a microphone. Yet this only served to highlight his skills as a performer and his talent with bubbles: despite the bad acoustics and the mind-numbing boredom of queuing, within minutes he was holding the audience absolutely entranced. For the first part of the show, one young man behind me seemed to be unable to believe his eyes, shouting, “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness!”
And indeed Pearl’s talent with washing-up liquid is quite worthy of such exclamations. He slices through bubbles without breaking them; sticks them to the ceiling; makes them dance; creates bubble wigs; puts people inside bubbles; flashes lasers through them; kisses them. Anything that can be done with a bubble you can bet he’ll do it. The clue as to why he is able to perform such feats is scattered throughout the show: science. He explains how is able to do these things, providing enough information for those that are interested but not so much that it will overwhelm those who are just here to look at the pretty shapes. Unlike a conjurer revealing how he does his tricks, our knowledge of Pearl’s ability to do such things only increases the magic.
Despite this show having no plot line and being essentially a succession of different tricks, it never feels in any way staccato or lengthy. The personality of Pearl holds everything together. An excellent family performer, he is patient, ironic, willing to adapt to the situation and never once showed a flicker of irritation when any of his constant stream of volunteers failed to follow his instructions. This show is sure to inspire young and old to continue the bubbly fun at home; the only people who could be made unhappy by it are the Assembly Rooms, who might wish to check whether their insurance covers bubble mixture on the ceiling.