THE unique atmosphere of Bridport’s Electric Palace was the ideal setting for the circus-themed community theatre “opera” Flea!
The auditorium was filled with colourfully costumed acrobats, musicians, singers and brilliantly-lit smoke effects for the show, a complicated tale of Eastern European circus folk and itchiness.
Recent Bridport resident and head of the world famous Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Hester Goodman was centre stage in the story, originated by Sally Vaughan, written and composed by Andrew Dickson, directed by Niki McCretton and choreographed by Anna Golding.
This community show was inclusive with a capital I – everyone who wanted to be involved was written in, even the local dogs.
The programme was packed with photographs of the rehearsals and facts about fleas. Ukulele is the word for jumping flea in Hawaiian, flea circuses were popular in the 19th century, Tiddlywinks is know as The Game of Fleas in many European countries, and fleas can pull 106,000 times their own weight.
In Bridport, the devious Madame Celine (Hester Goodman) was the exotic ringmistress of a flea circus, maybe in reality and maybe in her dreams. She was assisted in her plans by the saturnine Vlad (Frankie Golding) and brought up short by the talents of the young Grub (Sam Harris).
No hair was left unturned in the search for opportunities to utilise the talents of the huge cast – 96 of them on stage. They played ukuleles (of course), they walked on stilts (Martin Maudsley), they played violins with gusto (Jane Saunders), they sang, they climbed aerial silks, they processed through the auditorium, they played Tiddlywinks and they celebrated the FLEA!
The excitement was palpable among both cast and audience in the packed EP.
Huge fun, very inventive and atmospheric, Flea! was a perfect example of how to combine performance genres into a show that no-one will forget.