Black Light Theatre Company features a boisterous and lively cast in their production The Last Bubble. The small intimate space is perfect for the sensitive portrayal of how Rhys' cancer journey, from diagnosis to a very untimely death, affects the people closest to him.
This production's emotion is truly carried by the ensemble.
Most notably we see how his brother Callum, delivered through a stand out performance by actor Kyle Stead, deals with the tragedy. Callum splits his time beautifully throughout the show between building a coffin for his brother that symbolically looms in the background of several scenes and surprising the audience with heartwarming bursts of good humor. Stead's excellent timing for jokes and exuberance do both the writing and the audience justice in a piece as heavy as this.
The young cast carefully depicts how intricately the cancer diagnosis impacts the lives of everyone surrounding Rhys – such as when friends expressed their grief at the funeral for Rhys in different ways, each unique to their personal relationship with the character, while Callum ceremoniously completed the building of the coffin and closes the lid on his brother's grave. This production's emotion is truly carried by the ensemble, particularly Rhys' girlfriend who endearingly charms the audience into their relationship. However, outside of the talented ensemble the show struggles to deal with such delicate subject matter.
The spider web effects created by Rhys' cancer beautifully shows the reality of cancer's impact on friends and loved ones, but once you get into the eye of the storm where the rawest emotion is expected to be found, the show falls flat. Lead male, Deryn Evans, delivers a one-note performance that emotionally plays the ending of the show too early on in the performance. If the audience is expecting an emotionally charged battle against cancer exhibiting any of the differing stages of grief, they will be disappointed. Instead we see a catatonic character, lacking in development and range, standing as an imbalance with the dynamic performances surrounding him.