views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Bump
Tristan Bates Theatre
2nd August 2017

★★★★☆

Publicity image for Flood

Photography provided by Buckle Up Theatre

The older you get, the smaller the dating pool gets. A friend of mine told me recently how she'd turned to online dating after first exhausting the options at her workplace, amongst her circle of friends and their friends and at road traffic accidents. Yes, dear reader, she did in fact once embark on a short-lived relationship with a man she rear-ended, which makes he idea behind Bump! suddenly entirely plausible. When on her way to a big night out, Eliana (Oriana Charles) accidentally drives into the car in front of her, forcing her to pause, step outside and swap insurance details with Ian (Andrew Hollingsworth), who is on his way to a job interview. Both drivers are initially irritated by having to take time out of their busy lives to interact with each other, then realise there is a spark there. One thing leads to another and then to another and then to one very disappointed, confused and clingy Ian, wondering why Eliana isn't replying to any of his very many texts.

As you would expect from Buckle Up Theatre, the choreography is fluid, carefully conceived and many of the pivotal moments are conveyed through movement and sound effects rather than lots of wordy exposition. Whilst there is dialogue, there are only a few moments where this adds anything to the story that the expressions of the two performers don't already tell us. There are echoes of their previous Camden Fringe show, Journeys, which is wholly unsurprising given Michael Woodwood also directed that piece with Hollingsworth starring. Some of the sequences here are perhaps a touch overlong and could be tightened up, but it's only a minor niggle. Even when the action is slightly repetitive, it's still a lot of fun to watch.

Throughout the circular narrative, there are little clues gradually drip fed to us. To explain any further would be to take away from the experience of all the pennies in the air finally dropping at the same time, but suffice to say, there is some very neat foreshadowing. The recurring hallmark of Buckle Up's work is it's always very well planned.

Gender stereotypes are reversed with Eliana initially unable to look past the one night and Ian dreaming of a lasting romance. Both confide directly in us, the audience, as well as talking to each other, helping us to understand how their fledgling and very modern love story is progressing. Despite both being very different and seemingly wanting contrasting things, their movements and clothing are perfectly coordinated, adding some weight to Ian's pseudoscience theory of the two being somehow predestined to be together. The use of red in the costume and set design is striking, particularly when contrasted with the black box space. Visually, it's difficult to look away from the production.

Buckle Up has an affinity for very physical, expressive and heartfelt comedy. If you've seen their work before, you will really enjoy bumping into them again. And if you haven't bumped into them before, this is your moment. Could well be fate.

Bump opened on 31st July and runs until 5th August 2017 at the Tristan Bates Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly, Northern)



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