HAHAHAHA HA HA! BUMS! Trains! Right, now we’ve all had a nice giggle we can talk about why this is the best piece of theatre since Punch Drunk’s Masque of the Red Death.
But then You, Me, Bum Bum Train isn’t really theatre in the classic sense. It’s a ride where passengers are individually wheeled through a maze of tableaux where some outlandish scenes unfold. Morgan Lloyd, who co-created the Train with Kate Bond, says that he prefers to call it “live interactive art – even though that sounds really pretentious.”
The Bum Bum Train was born in Brighton as a club night. For the foreseeable future it has its home in Cordy House in Old Street, London. After queueing for over an hour we were brought into a kind of foyer area. It was BYO so punters milled around with their cans of beer and bottles of wine – no one really sure what they were supposed to be doing or what was expected of them.
After a while an orderly emerged with a wheelchair and with his megaphone called people’s names from the crowd. For a while I watched as people were wheeled off one by one, only to emerge from a separate door five to ten minutes later with utterly confused expressions on their faces. Then it was my turn.
Entering the Train I found myself at the entrance to a night club. A bunch of gurning teenagers asked me for cigarettes before I was told to move on by a bouncer. I stumbled down a flight of stairs and found myself in a young girl's bedroom. We had a brief chat where I asked her if she had slept alright and she said she had. Then I was in an airport security check where I was searched by an officious German security guard who confiscated my bag and valuables. From there I stumbled into a dentist’s chair who tried to pull a perfectly healthy tooth. And so the Bum Bum Train continued.
At various points in the ride I was wheeled down a catwalk while fashionistas looked on and applauded, was forced to translate for an Eastern European premier in a rather heated press conference, was made to crawl through a cloud of cotton wool, forced to fight an angry boxer in a the ring, not to mention sit by a man’s death bed and hold his hand as he slowly passed away, his family looking on and weeping.
The Bum Bum Train is a journey that sweeps you along and throws you out the other end feeling slightly stunned but invigorated. It puts you, the one and only audience member, at the centre of the performance. Your reactions to each situation you are thrown into define the scene and its outcome. No two rides are the same.
The preparation for a performance like this must have been huge, which perhaps explains the lengthy wait at the beginning. Kate, Morgan and the rest of the cast have, in Morgan's words, "given up our lives, well definitely our social lives, to create a special, individual experience for each passenger." You HAVE to catch the next Train when it returns to Cordy House in the coming months.
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