When so many people extol the virtues of a theatre company with the ferocity, frequency and enthusiasm with which people have told me about Little Bulb Theatre, there is always the worry that expectations are being set impossibly high.
With Operation Greenfield, which opened last night at the Soho Theatre after a run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe which garnered them a Stage Award nomination for Best Ensemble, I shouldn’t have worried.
The cast of four – Dominic Conway, Clare Beresford, Eugenie Pastor and Shamira Turner – play a group of teenagers who set up a band. Or, more accurately, a series of bands, starting with a two-piece funk outfit, moving into folk music before reaching all-out rock by the show’s end. Their ambition is to win their middle England village’s annual talent show but, thanks to the quartet’s membership of the local Christian club, decide to enter with a reinterpretation of the Annunciation.
Perfectly capturing the social awkwardness in so many teens, the foursome’s mannered, jittery moves are mirrored with highly stylised scene changes that add their own, additional level of comedy. Combine that with frequent use of bizarre masks, from glasses with fake eyes to a David Bowie lookalike, and you end up with a visual spectacle that’s quite unlike anything else.
I did find the frequent use of recorded music a little too loud at times, although that’s probably just a sign of me becoming the sort of fuddy-duddy that I’ve always hated. But I’m so, so glad that I saw this show – now, I can not only thank all the people who praised Little Bulb to the heights, but I can join them.
Operation Greenfield runs at the Soho Theatre until June 4. For more details, go to sohotheatre.com