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‘Anchorman’ meets ‘Good Morning Britain’ meets ‘Monty Python’ meets somebody’s mental breakdown in this bonkers new production from Little Bulb Theatre Company. Having made their name with a brace of sweetly uplifting shows about kids coming of age (‘Crocosmia’ and ‘Operation Greenfield’), the Bulb have gone a bit battier of late: earlier this year they staged ‘Orpheus’, a lavish ‘gypsy jazz opera’, and now they’re back with, er, a dance theatre comedy about an ’80s news organisation.
I am going to put my hands up and say that I’m not entirely sure why they’ve made a dance theatre show. The quintet are not what you’d exactly call accomplished dancers, and for the most part the rhythmic movements of the show’s oddball heroes and heroines seem more mad contrivance than artistic necessity.
Still, if ‘Squally Showers’ even has a raison d’etre, I wonder if it lies in the final line, a chipper shout of ‘break all the rules!’ The whole thing seems to have been devised in a deliberately and joyously counter-intuitive manner: there’s the dancing; there’s the cheerily vague plot; there the strange, stilted pauses; there’s the bit where everyone puts on monster heads. Some bits really drag, possibly deliberately, and a number of people walked out of the performance I saw.
And yet…out of the weirdness emerges something that’s not only endearingly eccentric, but also frequently laugh out loud hilarious, as we’re immersed in the strange, trivial concerns of a newsroom that would make Alan Partridge look like a pro. There’s the HR manager and his wife who deliver smug lectures on their relationship methodology; there’s moustachioed, lone wolf, apparently Australian anchorman, played by a woman; there’s the oddball mulletted guy writing an ‘erotic sci-fi novel’; there’s the perky weather girl who dresses up as a dancing Margaret Thatcher.
Little Bulb have a great ear for an amusing non sequitur, a great eye for a hilarious costume, and an irresistibly buoyant optimism. That they’ve put these qualities to work in such a bizarre format will put some off, but if you’re in the market for some unapologetically anarchic merriment, here’s your show.