24:7 Theatre Festival at Three Minute Theatre
Bump begins peacefully in the silence of a church, as Louise sits in a pew from before the audience enters, clutching her mobile 'phone.
Matt is destined to shatter that silence, but he takes a long time to build up the courage to speak to her, and so makes her jump when he does. They were at school together, but she doesn't remember him as she was one of the "cool kids" while he was (and still is) socially awkward and blushed whenever in her presence.
Louise is partly annoyed and partly amused by Matt's embarrassed and embarrassing attempts at conversation, until he reveals a traumatic period since school, at which point Louise attempts to be his therapist before revealing a trauma of her own.
There are some nice ideas and some nice scenes in this play, but they don't knit together convincingly. The Matt who dances awkwardly around Louise at the start doesn't seem like the same character who is later recounting his experiences in the Army. Louise's life-changing decision at the end is too big a transformation from how she feels at the start—I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it seems a little idealistic and sudden and not really justified by what has gone before.
Peter Mitchelson's production is certainly not frightened of the long, awkward pause, which at first seems brave but at times is a little overplayed. Sarah Keating is convincing as the popular girl from school who now works in a chip shop. Thomas Casson gets plenty of humour out of the awkwardness of Matt, but occasionally strays into mannered gestures to force the laughs.
Big revelations are always difficult to write or play convincingly, and Laura-Kate Barrow has set herself up with a few in the same play that are supposed to happen within the hour of the performance. The result is a play with some interesting ideas that is worth a look, but it all needs stitching together more neatly to make the transformations more believable.
Reviewer: David Chadderton