The Rules of Inflation by Balloons Theatre at Theatre N16

Every so often a show comes around that really knocks you for six. It goes beyond trying to explain anything to you and instead leaves you with a hundred questions. ‘The Rules of Inflation’ was performed at the brilliantly diverse Bedford pub (we witnessed dance classes, live music and of course the theatre under this one roof), and it was something completely different, arresting and fresh.

Meeting ‘Pink’ we were led into what could have been a children’s party, aside from the odd condom ballon camouflaged among all the other regular and beautiful balloons. ‘Green’ then took our phone number from us and we were then taken to our seat by cheerful ‘Yellow’. ‘Blue’ was elsewhere. Then the clown appeared, a dark and erratic figure, who proceeded to engage the others in a series of party games, games that he subverted and twisted at every opportunity. Children’s games were sexualised, people were tied to chairs, the rules were not followed. The clown was smearing lipstick onto the faces of the ‘colours’ marking them and sitting them out of the games. He was either having a great time or a horrid one. Nothing made sense, nothing seemed certain. The mood in the audience was palpable; uncertainty, fear and amusement? Whatever it was no one could avert their eyes…

We loved so much about this show particularly the space in between the chairs, ostensibly creating personal space, but in fact creating isolation and distance between audience members. There was no where to hide. Children’s games being subverted by an unstable sociopathic clown – what’s not to love about that? The use of fabric softener from ‘Blue’s’ balloon miscarriage, surreptitiously seeped into our nostrils, affecting the one sense so overlooked in theatre.

Devised organically this was performance art that asked many questions, and created many disparate moods. Clear from the start was that we would be voting for either ‘Pink’, ‘Green’, ‘Yellow’ or ‘Blue’. But how would we choose? Was it just a personality contest? Why did you vote for ‘Yellow’? How do we choose our actual leaders? Is it even worth voting at all? Do our leaders even care about us? Is politics just a circus for manipulators, megalomaniacs and psychopaths?

This is theatre that stays with you long after the event itself and compels you to talk about it. Brilliant work from everyone involved in The Rules of Inflation. Get down to Theatre N16 (actually in SW12) tonight or tomorrow to catch this rare piece of art!

Highlight of the piece –  the balloon rubbing scene, the fabric softener, watching the other audience members and or course – cake!

WIGS 4/5

The Rules of Inflation at Theatre N16 is on at 3:00pm and 8:30pm today (23rd) and 8:30pm tomorrow (24th) £12/10.

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