“SEISMIC POLITICAL EVENTS CAN AFFECT INDIVIDUAL LIVES IN BEWILDERING WAYS, AND IT TURNS OUT HAPPINESS DOESN’T RESIDE AT THE BOTTOM OF A CAN OF COKE.”
Bubble Revolution describes itself as ‘a one-woman revolutionary fairy tale about growing up during and after the fall of communism in Poland’. The bubble of the title refers to bubblegum, something that was once very hard to get hold of and treasured as a result. Rationing, and the black market that always grows in its shadow, can make a person obsessive about luxury food items and branded goods. An illicit jar of Nutella, for example, is savoured a teaspoon a day for weeks, and when the inevitable end of the jar is reached, the chocolate spread’s passing is mourned for months.
Our protagonist, Vica, talks with great passion about things like Barbie and Ken, My Little Ponies and soft drinks. Her first hangover comes after drinking copious amounts of Fanta and Coke, not cheap cider, and her first erotic dream features group sex in a vat of Sprite. The allure of the unknown makes places like McDonalds seem magical.
Communism ends, consumerism arrives, and everyone indulges. It all seems wonderful at first, but then reality starts to bite. Vica finds herself alone and pregnant, with few prospects. Her parents are distracted by their impending divorce, and capitalism’s answer to Vica’s depression is a packet of small pink pills. Seismic political events can affect individual lives in bewildering ways, and it turns out happiness doesn’t reside at the bottom of a can of Coke.
An article in the British Medical Journal, published in 2005, explored mental health in post communist countries, reporting that ‘Massive political, economic, and social changes in eastern and central Europe since the 1990s have created conditions of instability and stress, which are associated with troubling trends in health.’ There’s also a growing body of evidence that suggests consumerism, or materialism, is bad for our mental health. It’s an affliction that is in no way unique to post-communist countries. As the activist and writer George Monbiot says, ‘Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness’. (HB)
Bubble Revolution is on at New Town Theatre (Venue 7) at 13:45 until 28 August. Wheelchair Access – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bubble-revolution
‘Mental health in post-communist countries’: http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7510/173
‘Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/materialism-system-eats-us-from-inside-out
‘Cuing Consumerism. Situational Materialism Undermines Personal and Social Well-Being’: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/5/517