Buckle Up Theatre is truly an apt name for this company if their current production, BUMP!, written by Andrew Hollingworth is anything to go by. It tells us a story of modern dating, and how social media has an effect on how we perceive ourselves and others. Giving the audience both sides of the story, through asides and a clever use of props, this is an enjoyable hour spent with two vibrant characters.
Oriana Charles plays the confident Eliana, who opens the piece alone onstage, speaking directly to the audience before she is interrupted by the buzzing of a fly, which she follows around the space in an attempt to squash it. Once Hollingworth enters playing the ever-so-geeky Ian, choreographed movement is set to music, wittily portraying the difference in both characters’ lifestyles, with Eliana reluctantly teaching children whilst Ian sits in his robe playing on his PS4 for the entire day. During this sequence, the characters are yet to meet, but their daily routines are amusingly similar, simultaneously checking everything is where it should be when getting dressed, to sliding props to one another with fluid movement. Directed by Michael Woodwood, even speech is cleverly choreographed so that the characters interact in a seemingly continuous flow, while also timing their movements to sound effects. One especially delightful moment is when Eliana and Ian “bump” into each other at a shop: he wants to conceal the fact that he works there by hiding his name tag; she wants to stop her phone notifications as she claims that she is not currently receiving any messages. With Ian’s hand covering his name tag and Eliana’s smothering her phone, when they go to shake hands, they pause and swap hands back and forth in quick succession, completely in sync. The intricacy in each movement really is something to behold.
The black box theatre is used as a blank canvas for this production, with the actors dressed in pops of bright red, such as Ian’s tie and Eliana’s dress, even props have the same vibrant colour, from the phones to books to bedsheets. Using two black swivel chairs as cars, a bed and even a gondola, the transitions from scene to scene are seamless, with help from music tracks and black filing cabinets containing each prop.
The snap changes in the manic asides to the audience, back to appearing calm to the character opposite without breaking the pace of the piece is tirelessly impressive, and there is depth to these characters, as it is not all fun and games as the story progresses. You will not be disappointed by this refreshing take on what it means to meet someone new.
BUMP! played the Tristan Bates Theatre until August 5.