Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: You, Me, Bum Bum Train, Cordy House

Review: You, Me, Bum Bum Train, Cordy House

Written for WhatsOnStage.com, 21.11.2008

In the heart of Shoreditch is a theatrical experience sure to leave you Dazed and Confused. For the twenty minutes of You, Me, Bum Bum Train, life whizzes towards you, towers over you and nestles momentarily in your periphery vision before disappearing. Like a cinematic dream sequence or drug trip filmed in POV, nothing is quite within your grasp or without distortion. The result is an exhilarating headspin of dizzying escapism.

Charged with rum and karoke, you are seated in a rickety wheelchair before being hurtled through a series of interactive situations – from bobsleigh runs to boxing rings – populated by a cast of seventy performers.

Crucially, everything is about you. The Bum Bum Train takes you to places where everybody not only knows your name, but cheers it to the rafters. Sick children ask for your autograph; admirers take your arm; paparazzi capture your image. This is a carousel of fantasies that treats you to a flavour of heroism and, then, before you can grow accustomed to it, whisks you off elsewhere.

It does, however, leave you in each moment just long enough to demand a real response. Do you throw a punch? Or pose for the cameras? What comes out of your mouth when asked to translate into Swahili? At such velocities, impulse and reflex become your masters. Your actions are as genuine as they are unthinking and, accordingly, consistently take you by surprise.

Yet there also lurks something altogether darker. In the midst of all this frenetic fun, regular suggestions that you might be ill barely register. At times, you are frisked, manhandled and mollycoddled. Even as you bask in your newfound celebrity, it leaves you questioning which fiction to believe.

While You, Me, Bum Bum Train is breathlessly exciting, there are flaws. Its brevity makes £15 seem steep. The stock situations portrayed means content falls short of form in terms of invention and more could be done to involve all the senses. Most damaging, however, is the slightest of suspicions that the joke might just be on you.

Nonetheless, as it treats you the experiences of someone else’s lifetime, You, Me, Bum Bum Train is a rollercoaster as entertaining as it is eye-popping.

Photograph: Neil Kite

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