The best three years

16 April 2019

Lucy Thompson talks to Grace Gallagher about the post-uni blues that sparked Bost-Uni Plues




It’s what we fixate on: the uni experience from freshers’ week trauma to dissertation hellscape. We’re so caught up we rarely think about what’s next.

Ugly Bucket’s show relives the best and most tragic moments of uni through superbly-choreographed clowning, impeccable comic timing, sophisticated soundscapes and a thumping beat. But among its hilarity the show is painfully probing the post-uni blues that are coming for us all; heading home, losing independence, and losing your community.

Bost-Uni Plues is a way of talking about this. But does it provide solutions? Ugly Bucket’s artistic director Grace Gallagher gives us some answers (or doesn’t).

Does the show have a solution to the post-uni blues?

“I can’t, in this show, slot in ‘how you cure it’. We tried, and it was awful… The feedback we were getting was, ‘the show’s great but we want actual hard advice. What do I do when I graduate?’ So we made this track which was, things you can do to help with your mental health when you leave uni. And it was the most horrible, patronising thing we’ve ever done. It was us going (to a rapid beat) ‘reading writing keeping fit – set an alarm every morning’. And it was awful! We did it for one show and I turned to them after and went, ‘that’s horrible, it doesn’t feel right.”

So if there’s no solution – what’s the goal? How does it help?

“When it started, we were in the post-uni blues, making a show about post-uni blues. And so it was really cathartic, and quite selfish, in that it was our release, and it was for us. But the show is so different now is because, over time, we’ve grown – we’re not in [the blues] any more. I like to think that a year later the show has got so much more hope. We don’t want to scare people. There’s a version of the show that is really patronising and I don’t think it’s helpful to people. I think we’re – we’re sparking the discussion. We’re showing you that you’re not alone.”

Now you yourself are out of the blues, what happens to the show? Will you move on to a new project?

“Not right now. To be honest, I’m really gonna milk it. I’m gonna milk it for what it’s worth. And to be fair it’s a year old and it’s just tipping. This thing that we’re tapping away at, getting people to go ‘okay, this is a serious topic we should be doing something about.’ After a year of tapping away, it’s starting to crack. And I honestly feel like we’re starting to scratch the surface of something that could be really amazing. So yeah, we’re not done. We’re so not done with it.”

So Ugly Bucket are self-admittedly planning to ‘milk it’ and keep drawing attention to post-uni depression. For them personally, the show has been cathartic and a way of working through their fears. So on the other side – when they (finally) reach it – will they get post-Bost-Uni Plues blues? Maybe – it’s another scary cliff – but they’ll certainly be better prepared. There’s hope for all of us.

@noffmag / [email protected]

Image credit: Beatrice Debney