Trafalgar Studio 2 Spring 2019
For nearly forty years
John Godber has been a sort of benign Ayckbourn for the Northern
working class, sympathetically chronicling the little comedy and
little pathos in the lives if little people.
Scary Bikers, in which
the playwright appears as well, along with Jane Thornton, continues
the attractive pattern while injecting just a bit of political
commentary as well.
and sixty-something Don
meet-cute (at her husband's grave, actually), and discover that a
shared widowhood and a shared love of long-distance bicycling is a
good basis for a warm and humorous relationship.
The play is set in
the present, with frequent flashbacks, not only to the couple's
earlier adventures but to their lives with their lost spouses, all
events unobtrusively time-checked with references to outside events
from the miner's strike to the Brexit referendum.
The process of
their coming together and settling in as a comfortable old
might-as-well-be-married couple has its bumps, such as getting lost
in darkest Belgium during a biking excursion, and discovering class
differences. She's not exactly posh but is somewhat upmarket from his
solid working class, leading to awkward moments like her unthinking
assumption that he'd be able to afford something.
But their getting
to know each other – and our getting to know them – also reveals
a shared sense of humour and personality traits that nicely
complement each other.
As the flashbacks move
closer to the present
they and we discover another gap between them as he votes Leave and
she Remain. And here playwright Godber shows himself not just a
benevolent observer but a shrewd analyst, because he uncovers
convincing reasons for their positions that political pundits and TV
commentators have missed.
(Oh, and their political
nicely bridged when they discover that their clashing positions are
generated by a shared source – the conviction that all politicians
are lying gits.)
Godber and Thornton have
worked together, largely in
Godber-written plays, for more than thirty years, and you could guess
that they would hardly need a director. But co-directing with Neil
Sissons, Godber-as-director makes sure it all fits together, the
play's comic, dramatic and political strands remaining part of the
same reality, with no grinding of gears as the tone and focus shift.
Scary Bikers is not theatrically grandiose – two people and a tandem bicycle – but it delivers more in the way of warm comedy, warm personal drama and stinging political comment that you might expect from such a small package.
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Review - Scary Bikers - Trafalgar Studios 2019