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Half Moon and Lot’s of Odds’ co-production of Bump is a sweet cocktail of classical slapstick and the sentimentality of pregnancy, all with the cosy backdrop of a Spanish apartment scene. Amber-Rose May gives a comical and yet heart-felt one-woman performance of Inmaculada; a soon to be mother, attempting to arrange her shopping whilst being distracted by the reminiscent wonder of her dancing days. This results in an epic blunder of mood-swing-like changes from grabbing fruits and vegetables, to dancing like no one is watching.
With the joys of a now recorded theatre, we are allowed to view the close-up details of this Spanish inspired set. The iconic props, from the red roses to the Spanish newspapers, gives the set its national roots and immediately invites us into, not just the domestic space but the whole country that we are in. However, the rather pronounced English used in the reoccurring voice-notes, kept me guessing as to if this was an English couple trying to be Spanish, or just a very well-spoken Spaniard. Nevertheless, the rhythm of the salsa runs through the entirety of May’s performance, uplifting our urges to move as well as becoming a strong back-bone in leading her unpredictable energy. Dougie Evans’ sound design becomes a character in itself. We adapt to its rhythms alongside Inmaculada’s vivacious behaviour.
May embodies the endless streams of wild consciousness that we all feel when we are home alone. The main difference being the amplified bizarreness of sticking one’s finger in a jar of marmite, or dancing with a banana, which I imagine is an intense craving that a woman in her third trimester might have. These comical, often food-related moments, of exaggerated silliness are then stilled by the remembrance of the child waiting in her stomach. Her tango shoes are taken off her feet and start to trace the imaginary footsteps of her potential baby dancer, allowing us into the comfort of Inmaculada’s maternal bond, and the excitement of an expecting parent.
As she hangs her tango shoes up on the coat rack, I cannot help but feel saddened that this may be one of the last opportunities she has to dance alone again. In amongst the chaos of her dancing outbursts, the fine details of calmness allows us to reflect on the reality of pregnancy, and the toll of emotions and sacrifices it brings. The element of seclusion that May and co-creator, Chris Elwell, paint so beautifully, highlights the truthful inner thoughts of a woman expecting.
Furthermore, through their collaborative research project with Bexley Antenatal Services and Children’s Centres, we gain a real insight into a mother’s time in pregnancy, underlying the highly entertaining satirical act that May brings. She shows the wonder of the female body in her pointed toes, twirls across the stage, and her blooming belly patiently awaiting her due date.
Bump is playing at Half Moon Theatre until the 1 April 2021. For more information and tickets, see Half Moon Theatre online.