Think ‘Hamlet’ is the hottest ticket in town? Sorry, Cumberbatch: you’ve got nothing on ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’, the enigmatic, joy-filled immersive theatre adventure for one punter at a time. Despite creators Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd’s steadfast refusal to divulge any information about its contents – providing daft photos of themselves in lieu of any hint of the show – word-of-mouth has turned ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’ into a huge cult hit: its latest edition sold out instantly. But there’s another side to it: a huge army of amateur volunteers, who act as both cast and crew. Many say volunteering is the ‘true’ experience, and with ‘Bum Bum’ returning tomorrow, now is the time to sign up.
How exactly do you explain ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’ to people? Kate Bond ‘It’s an experience that takes people out of their lives and puts them somewhere more exciting, where they can be somebody different.’
Why are you so secretive about its contents? KB ‘It basically comes down to the fact that when people know what’s coming they prepare themselves for the encounters and interactions they have and it’s a lot less fun for everyone.’
This show sold out instantly, but you can still sign up as a volunteer – who are you looking for?Morgan Lloyd ‘There’s kind of a couple of layers. There’s the people who come and perform in it for the night. They work hard, but it’s a good night out. But then there’s the people who really make it happen, painting walls or making props or staying here until two in the morning, packing or tidying or whatever to make it what it can be.’
KB ‘Anyone who wants to come on board can, you don’t have to come along knowing what you want to do, and if you don’t enjoy it you can leave at any time. No commitment is required.’
ML ‘We would love it if somebody came along and just did one night.’
Do you look after your volunteers? ML ‘We do a cooked meal for everybody. Being part of the cast is a really good way to spend your evening, you’re being part of a community, you come to the bar, we feed you, you see it all happen…’ You’ve been criticised for not paying volunteers.
How do you respond to that? KB ‘It would have to be around £2,000 a ticket to pay everyone minimum wage just to break even. Morgan and I are on a living expenses wage that is the bare minimum to live off in order to do this project. All the money raised goes on the sets.’
ML ‘I think people might mistakenly think this project is sustainable. It isn’t, it’s a total gamble every time. That’s what makes it so unique.’
When will the next ‘Bum Bum Train’ be? ML ‘We don’t know!’
KB ‘It might be nice if somebody else put one on and we could try to get tickets for that.’
‘You Me Bum Bum Train’ is at a secret location from Wed Sep 2. To sign up as a volunteer, head to www.bumbumtrain.com.