It was a time, observed Alexander Pope, when it was ‘ignominious (in this Age of Hope and Golden Mountains) not to Venture.’ What was ventured were huge sums of capital by the British public in the mania which surrounded the South Sea Company in the early eighteenth century.
‘The Bubble’ is a well timed look at a subject which has some obvious parallels to our current economic situation. Eighteenth century finance does seem like an odd subject, even for the notoriously eccentric themes of Fringe musicals. Yet the two hundred year old account of a Rotterdam trader who ‘chews his nails, pulls his fingers, closes his eyes, takes four paces and four times talks to himself…’ proves worryingly familiar.
Musically the Bubble is tolerable, although nothing special. Despite being set in 1720, for example, there is clearly no attention paid to the copious amounts of potential musical inspiration from the time. Instead we are left with the odd sight of Georgians dancing to the familiar cabaret style musical numbers.
The production, while it moves along at a reasonable pace, also seems slightly confused about what it is trying to be. Clearly the potential for a biting satire could have been seized. This is only ever partly realised, mainly as a result of the obligatory two dimensional love story between the poor girl and rich gentleman. A void of any character depth means that this only serves to exhaust interest.
Nonetheless, ‘The Bubble’ is a professionally produced production, although it is more standard musical than acute satire.
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