Review: You Me Bum Bum Train 2011, plus news about extension

“If the experiences are expected, they feel less real, lessening the psychological and emotional impact the scenes have on unsuspecting passengers”

Are things ever as good as the first time? Well, it is usually different to say the least and so it was with the latest incarnation of You Me Bum Bum Train which has taken up residence in a disused office block on New Oxford Street for the next few weeks. I was able to ride the Train last year due to a completely random piece of booking on the Barbican website whilst snowed in at my parents’ house, I knew nothing of the show and it was pure chance that I happened to pick up tickets for what was apparently the fastest-ever selling show for the Barbican. That first experience was absolutely sensational, completely unlike anything I had ever done before and it initially thrilled and terrified me in equal measure before the sense of sheer wonderment set in at what I had been through.

The Train is a site-specific, interactive, personal journey that you take on your own through a series of experiences, encounters and adventures, populated by literally hundreds of volunteers, which range from the surreal to the exhilarating to the challenging to the everyday. Taken together over a non-stop 40 minute period, they form an unparalleled adventure which has to be one of the most liberating things you will ever do. Participants are honour-bound not to reveal the details of the show in order not to detract from the mystery that surrounds it – a tough job for a reviewer! – and ultimately that forms part of the beauty of entering this world – the unexpectedness of it all is what makes it so much fun.

For me as a second-time-round guy, I have to say I absolutely relished the opportunity to re-enter the world of co-creators and directors Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd’s endlessly fascinating imaginations – they’ve been doing this for 8 years now – and the amount of fore-knowledge that I had, in terms of the types of things I’d had to do last time round, meant that I was a lot more relaxed about the whole shebang. I managed to work myself into a bit of a state with nerves first time round and it took me a little time to get settled into it all, which in a 40 minute show has a fair impact, so it was good to be able to tumble head-first through the rabbit-hole and not be near-paralysed with fear. (It also meant I also got the delicious little red-herring-flavoured nod to last year that is in the stairwell by the first waiting room.)

That said, the irony is is that there’s nothing to be afraid of at all. Yes, it is an interactive show and so the more you put into it yourself, the more rewarding the experience becomes for you, but the environment which is created throughout is so supportive and warm that there’s no need for inhibitions here and so much to be gained by just letting go. Even if, especially if, you think this is not the type of show for you, I would urge you to be a bit daring and take the chance as it really is thoroughly enjoyable and revelatory in the way that it pushes you to do things you never thought were possible (and I’m not exaggerating, once again I found myself doing things I’d never dreamed of – and so did some of the people I interacted with, I’d wager!)

Tickets were predictably like gold-dust and vamooshed in mere minutes, but you have a second chance to take part as a ticket lottery for dates in January will open next week – details below. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy myself as much as last time but my fears were genuinely unfounded as it remained to be one of the most inventive, breath-taking and awesome theatrical experiences I have ever had the privilege to take part in: I cannot urge you enough to take a punt on You Me Bum Bum Train – if only so that I have someone else to talk to about it. (In that respect, hanging around the bar afterwards is great fun as it means you can share your experiences with other participants, so I’d recommend getting a drink or two and comparing notes!)

You Me Bum Bum Train Extension Dates: the ride continues…

After the massively high demand for the original run of this year’s production of You Me Bum Bum Train (80,000 applications for 1,000 tickets), the team behind the show are pleased to announce an extension into the New Year on selected dates from 5th-15th January. Recognising the difficulties that the ticketing website had first time round, a different system will be utilised to allocate places – a ticket lottery.

From Monday 12th December, a form will be available from the Run Riot website where you will be asked to fill out an email address and the date you wish to ride the train. The lottery will be open for five days, after which people will be randomly selected by a computer and asked to select the time they want/is available. Entrants may only enter the lottery the once to ensure as fair and equal a distribution as possible.

You can always volunteer your time to be part of the experience whether as a crew member or part of one of the scenes. For more information, contact [email protected]

Running time: 40 minutes
Booking until 15th January
Note: it is often quite a physical activity so wear trousers and flat shoes (make sure they’re not your best ones either…)

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