Writer: Julie Amanda Bokowiec
Music: Mark Bokowiec
Director: Liz Postlethwaite
Reviewer: Ruth Jepson
“Do you remember when the stabilisers came off?”
So starts Lost Boy Racer, a bike themed show about so much more than the Tour Du France. Set in a hair salon and a mechanics bike hut, La Grand Boucle is used as a strong metaphor for the journey life takes you on. Tubby, middle aged Inland Revenue working everyman Sean Racer (Thomas Aldersley) is trudging through life, a failed cyclist now content with picking the easy job and grabbing fish and chips for lunch. He is sent to investigate the not entirely legal enterprises of Linda-Marie (Sarah Groarke) and Beyond the Fringe hair salon, and in doing so rediscovers a passion for cycling that has been killed off by the simple act of growing up.
The cycling lingo comes fast and furiously, most ably delivered by Sean’s mechanic mate Claude (Robin Simpson). The sections where Simpson is spouting technical descriptions of cogs and time trials are immensely satisfying when you listen to them as descriptions of love and life, and the duologues between him and Aldersley are a definite highlight of the show. Contrasting the aural acrobatics are some genuine acrobatics in the form of the eponymous Lost Boy (Sean King), who lends a shadowy presence to proceedings, flicking his BMX expertly around the stage in a slightly threatening but not entirely off putting manner. The ghost of who Sean could have been perhaps? Unfortunately the only dips in the show comes from when King actually speaks – his physical theatre is amazing, but his acting breaks the illusion so ably built up. Backing up King’s physical theatre is a community chorus ensemble, dressed as fanatical (i.e.: slightly crazy) Tour followers. The followers will change with each location in the shows run, making each performance unique and capitalising nicely on the Yorkshire pride currently being felt thanks to the real Tour du France next weekend. Mind you, for this performance’s audience, an extra level of uniqueness was also added by a technical hitch with a static bike – the improvisation from Aldersley, Simpson, Groarke and Michaela Longden (playing Nina) was of such high quality and humour that you almost wish it weren’t a fluke!
Underpinning the action are three very important elements: music, lighting and set. The music has been composed specially for the piece, and samples bicycle sounds as well as Tour Du France commentary, which instantly focuses the audience on the context. The lighting is atmospheric, especially the side lighting used to highlight the Lost Boy’s movements – very visually stunning. The set is amazing. Claude’s bike hut is created from old bits of bicycles, and a fabulous set piece is a chair made from bicycle parts – a pretty literal case of Upcycling! The set could be improved however by rethinking the salon pieces. While the cages used are lovely, the constant wheeling them in and out makes the first half drag slightly as the momentum is affected, even with Groarke’s humorous huffing and puffing.
Overall, Lost Boy Racer is a down to earth show about living your dreams, whatever they might be (even just visiting Scunthorpe). It probably wouldn’t have come about if it weren’t for next weekend’s big event. Thank heavens that we won the bid then…
Runs until: Tuesday 8th July, touring Huddersfield (Lawrence Batley Theatre), Salford Quays (The Lowry), Harrogate(Harrogate Theatre) and Wakefield (Theatre Royal).