REVIEW: BUBBLEGUM & POP @ 2NORTHDOWN
🎭 Bubblegum & Pop
📍 2Northdown, 2 Northdown Street, London, N1 9BG
🗓 Wednesday 23rd August 2023
A NOSTALGIC JOURNEY WITH LOTS OF FAITH
As part of the recent Camden Fringe I went to see Bubblegum & Pop from Hulahoop Theatre, which was playing at 2Northdown near Kings Cross Station.
Set in a time of rotary telephones, cassette tapes, Rubik's Cubes, leg warmers, roller blades and jelly shoes, Bubblegum & Pop is a real nostalgia fest. Most of these iconic things are seen on the stage as the audience enters the auditorium which brings memories rushing back and builds the excitement for what's to come.
The date is 10th October 1984 and the latest edition of teen magazine Bubblegum & Pop is out. The big talking point of the issue is the upcoming Wham! tour and 14 year old super fan Amanda is excitedly reading through after just dumping her boyfriend for saying mean things about the big love of her life... George Michael!
The magazine offers an opportunity to connect with other fans and Amanda sees a pen pal request from a girl called Trisha and decides to write to her. They instantly strike up a strong friendship and are soon gossiping on the telephone. This took me back to a much simpler time when there were two phones on the same line and this created some wonderfully comedic moments.
The show is joyously littered with throwbacks of things you don't even think about anymore, and we see the girls tuning their radios. They hear of a competition where you can write Wham!'s next hit single and decide to enter. Their songs 'George & Me' and 'Gorgeous George' were never going to be contenders but I really enjoyed how Kirstin Fairchild as Amanda and Debbie Cotman as Trisha perfectly portrayed the innocence and delusions of the teenage girls. Having them singing into hairbrushes was brilliant.
Image: Kirstin Fairchild as Amanda and Debbie Cotman as Trisha
My absolute favourite part of the production was how they 100% nailed the nostalgia throughout. Again, the simple things such as having to arrange a place and time to meet friends without the luxury of mobile phones and the ability to text.
Of course you don't have to be a child of the 80's to appreciate this piece at all, but for those of us that are, Bubblegum & Pop fills our hearts with a special kind of warmth! Even if you don't get all the references such as "I'm Trisha, not Yates!", the piece is so wonderfully scripted that this doesn't matter and won't impede your enjoyment.
The story basically follows the girls as they correspond with one another, eventually meet and find out where George Michael lives and hatch a plan to turn up on his doorstep, even though they're not actually allowed to go all the way to Hampstead on their own!
The ending is beautifully cryptic as they turn up at the residence, the door opens and the girls scream with delight... but is it actually George's house? One thing's for sure, these two 14 year old girls definitely don't want Freedom from George!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Bubblegum & Pop and am intrigued to follow its development. At 50 minutes long I actually felt it was a bit too short. Even if there was an added 30 minutes the piece could still stay as a one act show. But with the fun, nostalgia, comedy and quality of the acting and writing I believe this piece could easily be expanded.
The next outing for Bubblegum & Pop is this weekend (Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th October) at London's Bread & Roses Theatre as part of the Clapham Fringe. Head to https://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/whats-on.html now to check availability.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
Kirstin Fairchild as Amanda; Debbie Cotman as Trisha
RUNNING TIME (approx):
50 minutes, with no interval