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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

You Me Bum Bum Train in New Oxford Street, December / January 2011-2012: Review

The You Me Bum Bum Train experience is like no other.... here's my lowdown on what to expect from this intriguing participatory theatrical experience... plus news of how to get yourself a ticket for the extended run.

Written by Amelia Gregory

You Me Bum Bum train sign
Writing about You Me Bum Bum Train is hard work: for understandable reasons visitors, and especially pesky reviewers such as myself (a necessary but somewhat unruly mob) are asked very kindly at every opportunity not to give anything away about what happens on the ‘ride’. And fair enough – once the element of surprise is removed some of the fun undoubtedly goes out of the Bum Bum experience. Even those who have been on previous trains are likely to have a very different experience to ‘virgins’ such as myself.

You Me Bum Bum train Game_Show_Flier
One of the fab You Me Bum Bum Train flyers, which are all designed by show creators Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd.

Immersive participatory theatre is having something of a moment, with the likes of Punch Drunk and ilk encouraging visitors to take part in the theatrical process – which means you, the paying guest, are not going to just sit back and relax. Rather, you are going to be required to remain fully engaged through the 45 minute experience. In a society where we are too often passive viewers this is a refreshing antidote, and probably far more natural to us as humans – in past history all members of a community would be required to take part in celebrations and entertainment. Think fire side rituals or village hall dramas.

You Me Bum Bum train NYE_covent_garden_Theatre
So, what is it okay to say? Well, dress for interactive fun – the website stresses no high heels and no bags or big coats (though these can be left in the cloakroom). Be prepared to fill out a health and safety form, but there’s no reason to be alarmed, creators Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd are just covering their backs. And most of all, come with an open mind and be prepared to get stuck in: you’ll be taking part in the various scenes that you encounter, all of which will whirl past at such frantic speed that you will barely have a chance to register what is going on before you’re on to the next mini drama. The You Me Bum Bum Train crew want you to experience a range of situations that you’d never normally get to experience in one lifetime and however bonkers your life might be I can guarantee that you will. All of it done with brilliant accuracy and believability.

You Me Bum Bum train Umbabungo
Once you are spat out at the end of the ride there’s time to visit the on site bar, which is a great place to catch on the experience with fellow passengers. Due to this year’s popularity (the good word has spread, rapidly) the ride has sold out for December, but today a lottery opens to find passengers for a newly released series of slots in January. So if you fancy yourself a bit of Bum Bum action then get yourself over to Run Riot… and sign up. But whatever you do, keep the experience to you and your fellow passengers. I got a sharp telling off for inadvertently responding to a tweet from a friend who took part as a performer last week. And on that note, there is a cast of hundreds, and the You Me Bum Bum Train are always looking for more volunteers, so if you fancy seeing it from the other side do offer your services – they’d love to have you. I’m thinking of signing up myself….

You Me Bum Bum train
Find out more general info on the You Me Bum Bum Train website and read another great review here by There Ought To Be Clowns, whom I met in the bar afterwards. Amelia’s Magazine contributor Luisa Gerstein was lucky enough to take an early You Me Bum Bum Train back in 2008 – read her review here.

*Enter the You Me Bum Bum Train lottery with Run Riot here!*

You Me Bum Bum Train press shots by Sean Raggett.

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