I would like to start this article by giving my apologies for not getting this review out sooner. I had planned to get my Out of the Box Festival reviews out on Friday evening, ready for school holiday audiences looking for something to do up at South Bank over the weekend and beyond. However, I instead spent most of the weekend unwell, and was unable to get pretty much anything done on either The Theatre Sphere or The Otaku’s Study.
However, while it might be too late to see this production at Out of the Box by the time you read this, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for them in the future if interested. If like several other Out of the Box Festival commissioned works, Creature: An Adaptation of Dot and the Kangaroo will likely be doing rounds both interstate and potentially at other venues across Queensland (Nothing confirmed to date however). Gazillion Bubble Show on the other hand is touring Australia, with QPAC being the first of many stops.
But enough from me, lets get this review started!
Gazillion Bubble Show
Out of the Box Festival is known to offer many newly commissioned works as part of its biennial line-up, but also offers a range of Australian premieres of international productions. Gazillion Bubble Shows is one big ticket item which falls into the latter category, and is in my opinion one of the highlights of the 2016 festivities. Headed to Australia for the first time following performances on Broadway, Gazillion Bubble Show claims to provide an “un-bubble-lieveable extravaganza for everyone” – accomplishing this through the use of bubbles and (later on) lasers. Judging from the screams of excitement which regularly resonated throughout QPAC’s Concert Hall… this show certainly accomplished this.
Gazillion Bubble Show stars bubble artist Melody Yang, a member of the Guinness World Record holding ‘Yang’ family. As you would expect from the show’s title, over the period of an hour, she performs a number of impressive tricks using bubbles. These range from merging layers of bubbles with different colours, to what could be considered “bubbleception” (Bubbles within Bubbles) for various effects. Bubbles can be fickle things even for an expert, and while Yang did have the occasional issue with a bubble breaking prematurely, she quickly dismissed it with either a flourish of bubbles or quickly going in for a second attempt with little time to lose.
As the show progressed, lasers were incorporated into the mix. This resulted in a sight to behold even for me, as the haze filled room with bubbles and lasers could only be described by me as a visual spectacle. I will admit that the inner child in me did momentarily slip out at some point.
One of the things that most impressed me about Melody Yang was her showmanship and engagement with audiences. There were occasions where she required volunteers from the audience, and it was nice to see that she did not choose exclusively from the front rows. It was also great to see that she wasn’t just following a script, and took the time to properly engage with participants – learning their names, taking her time to guide them through the steps and even refer back to basic information they provided her a few minutes earlier. Not only did the children get to directly experience being placed in a giant bubble or witness a bubble wonderland – but they also walked away with gifts. In all honesty, the way Yang engaged with audiences was almost as enjoyable as the tricks she performed.
While this was a show that managed to hold the attention of most children from start to finish, I would personally reconsider taking younger children who are: a) Are not comfortable in the dark, or, b) are sensitive to loud noises. I bring this up as I noticed there were quite a few younger members of the audience clearly distressed during some sections of the show. That being said, for the most part I would personally consider the age bracket of 3+ to be appropriate.
While from my perspective Creature: An Adaptation of Dot and the Kangaroo may have had more clearer educational links, this is not to say that Gazillion Bubble Show has little educational benefit. Not only are there links to visual arts, but there are also some really interesting science curriculum links which you can read more about HERE. But even more, importantly, I think this show could potentially foster a real love of science in a few of the young audience members.
To be honest, I went into the Gazillion Bubble Show expecting a lot of bubbles and some simple fun. While there were a few slow moments when viewers were left watching recorded snippets whilst the stage was being prepared, and the acts themselves weren’t 100% successful 100% of the time, it offered many impressive spectacles which had the crowd roaring with excitement. And for a show aimed at entertaining young audiences… I don’t think there is a better accolade than that.
Following Out of the Box Festival 2016, Gazillion Bubble Show will be headed to the Canberra Theatre Centre (1-4 July), Theatre Royal, Sydney (7-10 July) and the Adelaide Festival Theatre (14-17 July).