Friday, 28 June 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Bost Uni Plues - HOME, Manchester

“Why is no-one talking about post-university depression?”
“5 signs you’re experiencing post-university depression”
“How do you cope with graduating university?”
“Graduation blues: Why we need to talk about post-university depression.” “Facing the real world: How to deal with post-university depression.”

Post university depression is often a topic that is ‘shrugged off.’ Parents, friends and spouses try to help, however no help can quite fill the void that you’re currently feeling. You’ve spent 3 years following a certain set of rules, abiding by deadlines, dates and reading lists, for what?

Manchester’s Home Theatre last night bore witness to a wonderful coming-of-age masterpiece. Bost Uni Plus. Yes you heard that correct, the show is called Bost Uni Plues, a wonderful play on words from the post university blue’s topic that they are discussing on stage. Alongside this unfamiliar subject that they are deliberating, the title ‘Bost Uni Plues’ wonderfully represents the clowning style of Ugly Bucket Theatre's work, which is completely immersed within the bright colours and even brighter energy that they bring to the stage.

As an audience member I was constantly amazed by the amount of theatrical techniques that were so carefully placed throughout, the verbatim narration and slow motion clowning captured my heart and my mind allowing me to visualise these characters who were saying their initial thoughts on their university experience. It is very clear that director Grace Gallagher has been working on this piece for quite some time, due to the immaculate detail and mise en scène of the whole performance.

Alongside directing this piece of art, Gallagher also performed throughout showcasing her fantastic acting skills. Her witty clowning and over-emphasised facial expression took the audience's inner-self, on stage with her, as we could all relate without her having to saying a word, well a human word. As lead clown, she was able to offer vulnerability, sassiness and laughs galore whilst also showcasing her incredible physical skill!

Partnered with Gallagher, Angelina Cliff and Canice Ward beautifully completed this clowning arrangement representing the inner emotions we all have, love, hate and fear. Ward's persuasive nature had myself and the audience captivated, his use of modern cultural references kept the audience engaged and eager to please when he interacted with them. Cliff's standout performance came when performing as a majestic turtle, and throughout this section I was belly laughing and crying through joy and happiness as I couldn’t contain the madness that I was seeing. Cliff’s serious facial expressions partnered with her heightened body language and craziness was everything and more.

Sound designer Duncan Gallagher and technician Rachael Smart wonderfully captured the madness of this piece, with techno beats and bright lighting effects, each scene was crafted to reflect the circus life that 3 years at university represented. Set designer Laura Lomax delightfully completed this visual ensemble, her red curtain back drops and classic white fairy lights payed homage to the illusion.

After laughing for what seemed like hours I was eventually welcomed with a nauseating sadness, the true moral of the piece hit home. Post University Depression is a real thing; you feel hopeless, you feel like you have no part in the world anymore, you feel alone and as an audience member that hit me in the chest at such a speed.

I laughed. I cried. I felt an emptiness in the pit of my stomach and then I felt hope. I felt so grateful having been given the opportunity to watch this performance. All I could think about was the amount of students, post-grads, under-grads and audiences that this show is helping.

If you haven’t seen Bost Uni Plues, or any work by Ugly Bucket Theatre, I 100% recommend you book a ticket now and see them as they are a force to be reckoned with and they’re only just getting started!

Reviewer - Caroline Bleakley
on - 27/6/19

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