Review by Kelly J Clark – Shobill.ca Writer
March 15, 2017
SPIN is a lovely, musical trip through women’s history on the seat of a bicycle.
Writer, performer, activist, and bike enthusiast Evalyn Parry sings and strums the story of how the bicycle brought about lasting change for women across history. From its beginnings as a mode of transportation, exercise, and leisure, the bicycle has empowered women for more than a hundred years and this exciting story is told through beautiful song, clever anecdote, and surprising historical detail. Parry is simply a wonderful performer. When she sings, her voice fills with a passion that belies her love and connection with the tales she tells and the message within. Not only does she adore her material, but it’s obvious that she feels honoured to share it.
Her stage partner Brad Hart, credited as merely a percussionist and performer, is in fact the world’s greatest living bicycle player. Hart lovingly creates melody and rhythm through passionate percussion of the multi-tonal two-wheel. Watching Hart work is more than impressive: it’s hypnotic. It’s amazing to watch him coax so many different sounds from what most would consider one of the farthest things from an instrument – save for the bell, of course – but he does it masterfully.
SPIN has a lot more going on than just its actors: the production’s gears are well oiled by a keen design and precise direction. Throughout the performance the back wall is lit with both bold and whimsical imagery. Concocted by the show’s video and production designer, Beth Kates, this is a phenomenal touch that expands the play not only visually, but emotionally and contextually, as the audience enriched by the hour long montage.
Both director Ruth Madoc-Jones and technical director George Scott’s hands can be felt throughout the piece as well, in every well rehearsed, well timed moment. This is a small, tight production that uses every minute to its audience’s satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
SPIN is a performance for the musically inclined. If you’re a fan of acoustic guitar, folk music, bicycling, history, and feminism, this may be the best time you’ll have all year. Overall, SPIN is brief ride, but an immensely satisfying one that will have you falling in love with the freedom of the road beneath your wheels and the wind in your hair.