Hot Air, Tobacco Factory, Bedminster

BRISTOLIANS are gearing up for the annual Balloon Fiesta, on next week from 8th to 11th August, and there will be more new visitors than ever this year.

I can’t imagine that anyone who sees Hot Air, on until next Saturday at the Tobacco Factory at Bedminster, will be able to resist the temptation of going to see the event that inspired this wonderful, inventive and delightful show.

Produced by Myrtle Theatre Company, a troupe that creates original pieces and invites professional actors and community members to perform them, it is all about how it feels to leave your troubles behind you fly into the air in the basket of a balloon.

Introduced by “the pilot”, who might or might not be the world’s first hot air balloonist Montgolfier, it follows the opening day of a balloon fiesta in Bristol, where the world’s first commercial balloons were created.

It was written by Mike Akers after he and his team of researchers interviewed the ballooning community and members of the public about how they felt about balloons. The observations are brilliant … the four types of balloonist, each more aggravating than the last, as explained by the security man, the hopeless young man in search of a purpose, the young husband whose wife takes out a pay-day loan to buy him a flight for his birthday, the local TV celebrity and her spoiled daughter, the hooray Henry and his Bolly’d up fiancee, the ever-optimistic widow, the organiser and of course the anorakish keeper of every story about every balloon that ever flew.

All this is presented with puppetry, song, dance, model houses, and affection, making a show that celebrates Bristol, the universe, communities and humanity in an evening that fills the venue with happiness and childlike wonder.

Most of the company play multiple roles, an there are excellent performances from familiar actors like Maggie Tagney, Peter Clifford, Sara Markland and Trevor Sellers, and the very impressive Jack Riddiford in this ensemble production.

How lucky Bristol is to have two must-see summer shows.


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