A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Greenfield

 

BAC

 

 

7 – 23 June 2012

 

 

 

Ladders, Elvis cut-out, prop bric-a-brac – suitcases, paper masks, bubbles - Poundland dressing up box provides a festive feel to Little Bulb’s Operation Greenfield, which returns home to BAC. It has garnered many awards and plaudits since its inception in 2010; and was a runaway hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We are in the world of Tele-Tubbies’ evangelism served with eclectic music from Mozart to Bowie. It features Quavers as the sacred host, garish ‘Katholic’ crosses, (you need to say this with a French accent) and lashings and lashings of forest fruit juice as altar wine and general exotic, grown up drink.

Operation Greenfield - a little bit music, rock and folk, with theatre, is firmly placed within a British Bible-belt, somewhere in middle England, as a youth Christian group prepare for the Stokely annual talent contest. Yet what age are these geeky, outsiders, who are played just on the line between fairness and parody, meant to be? They seem to veer between eight and sixteen. The piece is bookended by references to the biblical Annunciation and Revelations - Judgement Day is nigh. Yet this is never threatening. Even the confrontation between God and the Devil is a mock-battle of stone, paper and scissors. Central to this strong biblical/faith theme is the enactment of Zachariah’s vision in the temple, foretelling the birth of John the Baptist, which the company acts out at breakneck speed, and the story of the Garden of Eden.   

In between these monumental Christian episodes, the group, comprising three, then four, go to ‘Daniel’s’ to rehearse. Violet (the exotic Eugenie Pastor); friend of Alice plays the flute, and in this show every pun could be intended. Yet her arrival seals and challenges bonds of friendship - she is French, she smokes and is bi. The group go through band names like Kleenex: Hendrix Chicks, Funky Town and finally settles on Vintage Summer. Yet predominantly it seems to be Alice (a versatile Shamira Turner) whom we follow. She does the most growing up. It’s her inner life which is foregrounded in her relationship with Elvis; and it is Alice who finally earns her angel wings.

Don Conway (Daniel) keeps within the bounds of the whimsical production style. Yet there is a central self-depreciation running through it like the imprint of Brighton Rock, which allows all four performers to be disarmingly charming. They even resemble one another, which the uniform strip of white t-shirt and jeans at the beginning accentuates.

Ultimately, Operation Greenfield is about having faith, finding acceptance, finding love, finding a song. Towards the end of the eighty minute show Daniel says: ‘we’ve made some brave decisions here as a band.’ This could sum up the whole venture. The quartet is very accomplished. They play a variety of instruments from guitars to flutes, banjos to harmonicas, while the final ‘revelation’ into rock-folk-band explodes in energy and exuberance, owing much to Clare Beresford (Molly) who moves deftly between drums and xylophone.  Yet as a fully-rounded performance piece some of the intentions seem to misfire, and it is difficult to know how to ‘read’ them. Yet nothing could fault the company’s energy and commitment. Their next work, again with BAC, will be a fusion between the Orpheus myth and 1930s Parisian gypsy Jazz………Now that I can’t wait for…….

  

 
www.bac.org.uk
BAC
Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
020 7233 2223; bac.org.uk
Mon to Sat 7 – 23 June, 8.00pm; 9 and 23 June 9.45pm
Tickets £15, £10 concs
 
http://www.littlebulbtheatre.com/operation-greenfield.html
 
 

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