Writer: Katherine Mitchell
Director: Nancy Medina
Reviewer: Kath Hill
The Public Reviews Rating:
This single hander tells the story of one woman’s journey to adulthood and middle age, much of it in the saddle of her bike. The parallels between learning to balance on two wheels and gaining her independence on two feet are evident but there is much more to this tale than a simple coming of age.
This unnamed character has had it rough. She lurches from childhood in a down at heel home through ugly adolescence into a traumatic rite of passage. It is hardly surprising then, when she turns to the pleasures of the flesh to both wipe out the memories and to shield herself from the intimacy and love she craves but doesn’t understand.
As an adult, her language becomes quite – no, make that very – coarse. Something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of going to watch with your elderly maiden aunt or teenage kids, but it is all very much in keeping with the content and pace of the play and far from gratuitous.
As we accompany our new friend on her journey, at times the connection with the bike becomes a bit tenuous and sometimes even lost but the link is re-forged when the wheels fall off her relationship and she finally confronts her demons.
Katherine Mitchell has written a strong, emotional piece that will resonate with many women but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a dark drama. There is a lot of wit and sass to lighten the mood and to carry the play onwards.
Jenny Johns plays the main character and a raft of minor characters, holding the audience rapt for an hour and a quarter – no mean feat. Her portrayal of the young child is perhaps a little simplistic but she more than compensates for this with her compassionate, nuanced performance later in the piece. The sessions with the therapist are outstanding.
The set design is very simple, with few props, apart from some tables and a bowl of vegetables, and no scenery, which is visually a little disappointing although the lighting provides some interest. There are moments where the audience is inexplicably illuminated but overall the lighting adds to the mood of several key moments and enhances the action. The sound is well thought out and effective.
Overall, given the tough subject matter, it is difficult to say that this play is enjoyable but it is certainly a thought provoking, relatable piece that demands respect.