Underbelly’s largest venue is the huge tent – shaped like an purple cow tipped onto its back – that this year has been transplanted into the western half of George Square Gardens. Given its size, it’s initially surprising (at least to the uninitiated) that it’s the selected venue for a children’s show which is essentially about blowing soap bubbles. But it is, and just as well; a near sell-out, by the looks of it. The ‘room’ is full of kids, one of whom later reveals that he’s already seen the show more than once, so there’s clearly some repeat business here. That may well explain the level of excitement even before Louis Pearl – self-described as one of the world’s leading bubble-ologists – walks on stage.
This is a show that’s definitely much more than the sum of its parts. Or its bubbles
Louis Pearl blows bubbles. He blows big bubbles. He blows huge long bubbles, rippling with every colour of the rainbow. He blows bubbles with bubbles inside them. He blows bubbles with smoke inside them. He blows bubbles with, clearly, a gas inside that’s lighter than air so that they float slowly to the ceiling. He blows towers of bubbles on volunteers’ heads; he juggles bubbles and karate-chops them in two. Written down, it doesn’t actually sound like much, but with the cabaret-styled musical accompaniment of the talented Jet Black Pearl, this is a show that’s definitely much more than the sum of its parts. Or its bubbles.
“I love bubbles more than you do,” Louis insists at one point. Many of the younger audience members fervently disagree, although it’s obvious to any outside observer that what most of the kids – particularly those sitting in the first few rows – really enjoy is bursting them. But there’s nevertheless a simple, wondrous simplicity to the proceedings; it’s spectacle, yes, but with just a hint of possibility. After all, who hasn’t blown bubbles at some point in their lives and wondered just how big they could possibly make them if only they had the right “equipment”?
For this reviewer, arguably the most impressive example of the bubble science on display here is a smoke filled bubble which – somehow – Louis manages “to burst in slow motion”, the escaping smoke inside pushing down and out like a rocket exhaust. He points this out, but doesn’t go into any explanation of how; he’s more interested in the bubbles and ensuring as many children as possible have their moment of bubble triumph in the spotlight.
Definitely a well-spent hour in the morning, and one that – apologies – won’t burst that fragile bubble of childhood wonder any time soon. Just be prepared to buy bubble bath on the way home!