EFR - Reviews of Buckle Up

Buckle Up

Mon 17th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Caspar Jacobs

at 01:37 on 20th Aug 2015

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Buckle Up is a play about the worst airline ever, the fictional Budge-It Air. Naturally, my expectations were extremely low. Earlier this summer I have experienced a 24 hour delay so it could only be better than that. And indeed, Buckle Up started on time. However, the show itself never really took off.

In Buckle Up, an airplane which is running late because the pilot hasn't arrived and the plane is hijacked by a pathetic 'terrorist' who for once wants to be the focus of attention. The stewards are unrealistically incompetent and immensely clumsy. This is supposed to lead to hilarious situations, but often became a hysterical, over the top scene which honestly wasn't very funny.

The problem is that all this drama isn't needed. Obviously, a comedy about a bad flight experience should focus on the experiences of people who have ever flown with RyanAir. Buckle Up might have worked as a play with recognisable situations that are taken to the extreme. Instead, Buckle Up creates a situation that the audience can't relate to, with characters that respond completely unrealistically to the situation.

The play was 'immersive', which meant that the chairs were arranged in typical airplane fashion, including fake brochures on the chairs that contained a crossword puzzle containing the words 'Terrorist' and 'Help me!'. Very comforting. The downside to this is that whenever characters move to the rows in the 'back of the plane', the people sitting at the front are unable to see what's happening. It might have been better if the actors had stayed at the front of the stage/plane. The only aspect of the immersive nature of the show that worked well was stewardess Cressida (Katie Arnstein), who frantically kept reassuring the passengers/audience that everything was okay.

With a show that presents itself as being disastrous, it's hard to decide what it means to not work well. I think Buckle Up overdid it by trying to come up with the most horrible but still innocent situation imaginable, instead of dealing with slightly more mundane circumstances. The play regressed into slapstick and hysterity, which had its funny moments but wasn't as disastrous as it could have been.

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Jenny Burton

at 10:03 on 20th Aug 2015

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Buckle Up - a theatrical representation of a budget airline - conjures up similar feelings to the reality of travelling on Ryanair or Easyjet- you want to get to the destination, but the journey is not a highlight.

Buckle Up presents the story of the beginning of a flight on an excruciating budget airline that even charges for loo visits. After an introduction to the cabin crew consisting of nervous and pretty girl Cressida, new kid on the block Jamie and uptight Lisa, events take a turn for the worse as panic erupts and things spiral out of control.

Unfortunately for writers Andrew Hollingworth and Tim Gutteridge, the writing of their programme that provided a few minutes of puzzle entertainment was stronger than the script itself. Individual characters are presented as stereotypes, rather than being explored fully which leaves the audience disinterested and uninvolved in their turmoil. Cressida (Katie Arnstein) is able to engage with her viewers on the rare occasion when she apologises for the inconvenience, but otherwise the characters haven’t decided if they want to make us laugh or cry.

The most frustrating element of the performance was the lack of absolute panic upon the realisation that the plane had been hijacked. This may be due to the fact that we are led to understand that the plane hadn’t even taken off yet so perhaps panic would be unnecessary. The seat formation didn’t help their cause either, forcing the audience to turn around or lose half of the action which only resulted in further distance between spectator and action.

Although Jamie (Tim Gutteridge) provided elements of entertainment through his attempt at setting his audience free and persuading them to want to move to a desert island, his constant rolling up and down on a trolley was off-putting and unnecessary. Cecil (Andrew Hollingworth) provided the odd witty one-liner which established his endearing personality but I didn’t find myself interested in investing in any of them.

Buckle Up is a good idea for a show as budget air travel is a concept we all know too well. Unfortunately, the attempt at comedy fell on deaf ears and I found myself getting bored.

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