Back of the Bus
  • By Liam Rees
  • |
  • 25th Aug 2016
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Java Dance Theatre have somewhat sworn myself and the rest of the audience to silence after the triumph that is Back of the Bus so as not to ruin the wonderful surprises in store for you all, on this bus journey unlike any other bus journey you’ve been on before. The morning commute will never be the same again.

Definitely ignore the stranger danger advice you were told as a child and just join in with the ridiculous, giddy fun that’s waiting for you

The basic premise is that you are driven around Edinburgh on a double decker bus, with some weird and wonderful visits from some of our fellow commuters - where you are definitely expected to get involved. The dancers on the bus create such vivid and distinctive characters that you know them intimately by the end of the performance, despite them saying little or nothing to you. You just need to join in the dance and they’ll take you on a mystery tour that’ll make you feel like a kid again, rediscovering our city and its inhabitants. For the purposes of Back of the Bus, definitely ignore the stranger danger advice you were told as a child and just join in with the ridiculous, giddy fun that’s waiting for you.

The choreography is incredibly accessible, opting to evoke characters and shine a light on how ridiculous people actually are rather than trying to propagate a specific idea or agenda and the dancers deserve the highest praise not just for their technique but also their ability to encourage the audience to play along with them. Furthermore the soundtrack is a joy to listen to, fittingly reminiscent of the film Amelie as Back of the Bus makes us look at the city from a completely different perspective just like Amelie did with Paris. Java Dance Theatre have dramatically altered what a dance show can be by making it site-specific, promenade and interactive whilst never getting stuck in its own head – I’d love to see how the piece could change (or not) as it moves from city to city. Either way, Back of the Bus is the epitome of what the Fringe stands for: a bonkers experiment that is also an absolute joy for the cast and audience. You’d be mad to miss it!

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

UNCONDITIONAL

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Daughter

★★★
Pleasance Dome

Lights Over Tesco Car Park

★★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Chase Scenes

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Come ride on a bus through the streets of Edinburgh as dancers propel themselves along the aisles and hang from the roof. Physical comedy, kinetic energy and outrageous scenarios combine to create a magical mystery tour. Fresh from sell-out seasons at 17 New Zealand and Australian arts festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. ***** (BroadwayBaby.com, Darkchat.Moonfruit.com, GlamAdelaide.com.au). **** (Scotsman). Top five Adelaide Fringe 2012, as reviewed by audience and critics. 'I felt like a kid at a candy store full of wonder and excitement' (Audience member). Catch the dancing bus in Edinburgh.