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Review of Buckle Up Theatre’s BUMP! at the Vault Festival

Bump As you enter the auditorium, a young girl in a red dress is sitting on one of two black chairs looking concerned about something, continually looking at her watch and being bothered by a fly who’s buzzing around the room. She’s then joined by a young man who sits in the other chair and we’re off on a roller-coaster of a ride as these two, who at that point have no connection with each other, wiz around the room in their chairs or running at 100mph. They mirror each other perfectly – when the girl (Eliana) is driving her car, the boy (Ian) is sitting at home “driving” a video game. We find out about their lives in mime – Oriana is a teacher of young children whilst Ian seems to laze around in his dressing-gown playing video games.

We discover more about the couple when they each have a monologue, and we find out that Eliana is indeed a teacher and Ian when he bothers to turn up, works at PC World but has an interview at an Apple store has borrowed his brother’s car to get there. Eliana is in her car on her way to see her sister when the eponymous “bump” happens as Eliana drives into the back of the car Ian’s driving and as they exchange details, the relationship between the two is up and running.

After spending the night together, Eliana who’s confident, gregarious, spontaneous and full of energy, realises that the boring, nerdy, inexperienced Ian just isn’t the man for her – their meeting has been a complete accident and it’s time to end it – or is it?

Bump is a superb piece of theatre both physically and in its clever, witty dialogue. Oriana Charles who plays Eliana is a delight and we feel her pain as she embarks on a relationship that she’s not sure she wants. Andrew Hollingworth who plays Ian (and also wrote the play), is a nerd but a cheeky one who we empathise with as he tries to woo Eliana, falling in love with her at first sight. There are some wonderful set-pieces such as the one in PC World where they both try to cover up the reason they’re there and some biting comments about Wetherspoons that ring very true. There’s also a hysterical scene in the bedroom as the two deal with the awkwardness of their first night in bed together; Eliana knows what she’s doing – Ian certainly doesn’t!

The coordination between the two as their two lives bump into each other is meticulously choreographed and the two actors have obviously worked very hard under the superb direction of Michael Woodwood. There are some very clever bits of business with just a few props that are seamlessly done which is all the more remarkable as a lot of it carried out at a frenetic, slapstick pace.

Whilst this is ostensibly a two-hander, there is, in fact, a third character – the soundtrack. This consists of incredibly well synchronised and appropriate music, sound effects (especially some annoying flies) and voiceover. There’s a wonderful scene where they’re in their respective flats watching television and as they change channels, the sounds coming from the TV’s echo their thoughts including the use of David Attenborough narrating a nature programme. I’d like to give credit where credit is due but unfortunately, there isn’t a sound designer credited in the programme.

There’s also great attention to detail in what the couple are wearing – something you don’t always see in a small piece like this. Everything they wear is either red (her dress, his tie, their underwear), white (his shirt) or black (her shorts, his trousers). It’s only a small thing but it adds to the mood of the piece.

Whilst on the surface Bump is a simple rom-com, deep down there’s a lot going on. Is it fate and the cosmos that brought them together as Ian believes or do we forge our own destiny as Eliana believes? Do opposites attract or not? Can love conquer all? This is a superb piece of theatre on lots of levels and wonderfully acted by two endearing actors who seem totally in synch with each other. Hollingworth has written a marvellous piece that utilises all the elements that make going to the theatre such a delight and sometimes surprising experience; I look forward to seeing more writing from him in the future.

It’s a shame that it only has a short run as part of The Vaults Festival. Hopefully, the aptly named production company Buckle Up Theatre can take it to other festivals as it deserves to be seen by as big an audience as possible.

5 Star Rating

Review by Alan Fitter

Winner ‘Best Comedy Show’ and nominated for ‘Best New Writing’ at Greater Manchester Fringe 2015

In this fast-paced, highly physical new play, Eliana and Ian appear to move in harmony. Watch their happiness and struggles at close range in an intimate setting.

Become a part of their lives as their innermost thoughts are shared directly with you, even in their private moments. Are they on the same wavelength or at odds? Words overlap, intertwine and tangle throughout this quickly propelled story.

Bump! is a unique new comedy packed with twists, turns and surprises.

DIRECTOR – Michael Woodwood

Oriana Charles
Andrew Hollingworth

The Vaults
14 — 18 Feb 2018


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