Review: Bush Bazaar

Whilst thousands of people make the trip across the border to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, Theatre Delicatessen in association with the Bush Theatre offer a festival treat for the rest of us. After the success of 66 Books, the Bush Theatre once again opens its doors – all of them – for punters to roam around the building and experience twenty-five emerging companies’ work as part of Bush Bazaar.

This is an experience. Having spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out what was going on, a bell sounded indicating the start of play. A girl then made a call along the lines of “you get out of it what you put into it” and then, after a couple of moments of murmuring, the audience slowly went out to explore.

I’m not going to review this like a normal theatre production. Why? Because I think the whole point of it is that it’s your own individual journey; if anything this will come across like me telling a story. There is a lot of reflection surrounding this venture. I didn’t get to see all of the work due to being tied up in other corners of the building. I think – if anything – that is Bush Bazaar’s only downfall: it’s manic and it’s busy. Inside Bush Bazaar, for some of the companies, you have to hypothetically pay and barter a price to see some of the shows and it was made out to be a game but there wasn’t much of a presence of this game bar the poker chips I carried around the building in an envelope. As a result “the game” was never really realised; actually, if anything, it made the opening ten minutes rather daunting (but maybe this was the point..!).

I then thought to get the penny rolling I’d start in the room where I would usually start any other evening at the theatre: the loo. In the men’s toilets I was met with Eda (Stuff, JIAC), a hoarder who was on a desperate mission to part with her beloved belongings with help from some total strangers. It was at this moment that it clicked in my mind what this was all about. As Eda tried to part with a tiny clear plastic wallet with the elderly gentleman standing in front of me, he refused to take the plastic wallet admitting he too had hoarding issues and he “felt Eda’s pain”. I realised that all of this palaver is only a palaver if you allow it to be.

I rushed downstairs and was soon painting the face of a girl I had never met before, her name was Ellie and she works for an orchestra and together we were combating our face-painting fears. I then skipped down the market stools to part with a memory I had linked with a particular song. Having then picked a disk at random I was listening to a previous girl’s choice, For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder which was “the first song Ben and me [the girl] had danced to” and for 2 minutes 57 seconds I was picturing this girl’s – who I have never met – memory with Ben and it was truly beautiful. This was all part of Fete or Flight by Birds Anonymous whose idea it was to save the fictional town of Henton Wood’s inaugural fete from council cuts by bringing people together and asking them what they really value.

I truly recommend either going to Bush Bazaar on your own or going in a group but parting ways from the start. You truly get out of this what you put into it and in my opinion you only truly get anything out of it if you experience yourself experiencing it all. I arrived with nothing but left with a CD, poker chips, a press-pass to interview Justin Bieber and whiskers on my face.

Surprise yourself. Play the game with yourself. Go hard or go home.

Bush Bazaar plays until 18th August. For more information and ticket details go to www.bushtheatre.co.uk.

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