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By Andrew Hollingworth

Fort Worth Fringe Festival

Director – Michael Woodwood
Stage Manager/Technician – Daniel Gronner

Eliana – Oriana Charles
Ian – Andrew Hollingworth

Reviewed Performance: 9/6/2019

Reviewed by Carol St George, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

This review won’t be very long. For one thing, the play wasn’t long — just an hour. It was Bump! — one of those Fort Worth Fringe Festival offerings. (I was able to see only one of the fifteen short plays served up by the Festival, and this one looked appealing.) For another, it’s almost impossible to give you an accurate picture of what happens because, forgive me, you had to be there. But I was there, luckily enough, and it would be easier to describe an amusement ride to a Martian. “Roller Coaster” is such a cliché. But it was that and a tilt-a-whirl, and a fun house.

In Bump!, two British actors, Andrew Hollingworth and Oriana Charles — on a bare stage with two director’s chairs, a credenza at the back of the stage, and nothing else — re-enact the trajectory of their relationship up to the present time. It begins with Eliana (Oriana Charles) sitting in one of the chairs, confiding to the audience (the fourth wall is non-existent) that she’s filled with these thoughts, thoughts upon thoughts, about how things got to this point.

Then, as she proceeds to bring us up to speed, the dance begins. I say dance because choreography is central to the stage movement. The other character Ian (Hollingworth) enters and we see the two at a perfectly synchronized, harmonized, and breakneck pace, perform their daily routines. Then there’s an encounter, a bump, and the ride that ensues is almost dizzying in its speed, coordination, and grace, peppered with slices of simultaneous dialog. They share their interior conversation with us while censoring their discourse with each other (like we do all the time with everybody). So the sequence of events unfold, filtered through each characters’ interpretations. Inevitably, we are pulled into each one’s point of view, reaching an empathetic space, as if wind-surfing in tandem.

There’s also quantum physics. When particles collide, each particle’s path is changed. But no matter how far apart they travel, they will always be connected. It’s another nugget delivered by this amusement-park-on-speed excursion. And it’s exhilarating.

Playwright and actor Andrew Hollingworth has created a brilliant, modern millennials’ rave. He’s the perfect gawky, techno-nerd, under whose surface lies a potential physicist’s intellect. Oriana Charles is adorable as Eliana, the world-wise cute chick whose shallow worldview belies a well of untapped sentience. These characters are loveable, their circumstances universal, their responses not atypical. Yet witnessing this hair-raising slice of their lives is a discovery of another angle on reality, a wild ride through our collective, albeit fragmented, psyche.

Director Michael Woodwood orchestrates a delightful rom-com concerto, both frenzied and tightly balanced. The actors inhabit three dimensional human beings, revealing both honesty and artifice. The stage manager/technician, Daniel Gronner, is appropriately acknowledged during the closing bows as the magician behind the curtain, the man whose sound effects, music, and lighting, executed with nano-second timing, flawlessly merge with the gymnastic pas de deux on stage.

At Friday night’s premiere of Bump!, the audience was sparse, which is a shame. This jewel, the official selection of the Fort Worth Fringe Festival, deserves to be seen. Previously, the show was crowned Best Comedy at the 2015 Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and won the People’s Choice Award at the 2018 AACT World Fest. Perhaps it will get the proper exposure before the Festival closes on Sunday. If Bump! is any indication of the quality of the other fourteen plays, the entire Festival should merit spending a weekend taking it in. I wish I could have.

If you have the good fortune to catch Bump!, presented by Buckle Up Theatre of Essex, UK, be sure to fasten your seat belt.

The 2019 FW Fringe will take place September 6th – 8th, 2019 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
1300 Gendy St, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Tickets: 817-732-2360 or