Watermill - Bubbles
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Watermill - Bubbles

On tour April to June and September to October 2009.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Catch some Willesden wit as it blows your way

The Watermill: Bubbles, at East Garston Village Hall, on Saturday, April 25,and at The Watermill from May 12 to 16, and on tour

Who'd have thought a village hall on a Saturday April afternoon could be so full of atmosphere?

There were several empty chairs for the matinée performance of Ade Morris' Bubbles, but a blink after the (non-existent) curtain went up, those who were there became engrossed in the life of Bubbles Brough and her two sons.

It started with an end, that of Bubbles' husband Ted who had abandoned life while digging in his Willesden scrapyard. Carl Calow's vibrant music, directed by Sarah Travis, captured every mood as the performance continued, beginning with Bubbles (Melody Brown), all raw emotion, pleading with the extinct Ted "not to leave me without a cuddle". It was clear that Bubbles was of the strong, salt-of-the-earth variety, the sort who prefers "proper coffee" - ie Nescafé.

The action alternated between the present and the highs and lows of Bubbles' life with Ted, which were introduced by eldest son, Charlie (Dan Smith). As well as looking after mum, Charlie had to cope with brother, Dirk (Ryan Coath), a knicker-charmer who, he said, "you wish had been left in a condom".

The two lads must decide what to do with the scrapyard which Ted had wanted to turn into a garden centre, but a lucrative offer makes them waver and eventually Bubbles' health becomes the deciding factor.

If the words 'garden centre' make you think this is going to be a placid, quiet piece, think again.

Packed with down-to-earth Willesden humour, pulsating, moving music from the actors' guitars, piano, bells and more, this is a musical story, bang up to date, told by three actors who inhabit their roles so completely that the audience is with them in the scrapyard, living their lives.

Seamless interchanges had Bubbles dancing in a sundress one moment, the next clad in dingy mac and beige beret; Ryan Coath, brilliantly doubled the role of Irish Ted with drug-dealing Dirk, contrasting with Dan Smith's nicely judged 'reluctantly sensible older brother' performance.

For the first time The Watermill have launched their touring production before its run at the theatre and subsequent tour. Catch Bubbles wherever you can; it is a cleverly crafted, hilariously poignant piece of theatre.

CAROLINE FRANKLIN