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Review: Dramsoc Presents “The Village Bike” 18/02/16

Last night, audiences at Bristol SU’s Pegg Theatre were treated to a sell-out opening performance of Penelope’s Skinner’s “The Village Bike”, a provocative and darkly comic exploration of female sexuality and motherhood.  The play, directed by Jacob Fredrickson and produced by Amelia Lupton, tells the tale of Becky, a newly pregnant schoolteacher left frustrated by her husband’s prioritisation of his baby manual over her new underwear. After a brief encounter with a neighbour and the purchase of a new bicycle leads her speeding downhill in reckless abandon, the audience witnesses Becky’s increasingly desperate search for a sexual identity that allows her to exist beyond the repressive limits of reproductive vessel or sexual object.

Amy Cotter led this brilliant cast with a strong, sustained and uninhibited performance that captured her character’s wit and playfulness as well as her intensifying frustration and despair. Interactions between Becky and her husband John were timed with perfect comic precision, and Peter Whatrup’s skillful rendering of naive obliviousness left me torn, much like Becky is, between the urge to slap him and give him a hug. Jonas Moore’s portrayal of Becky’s lover Oliver oozed with sleaze and swagger, and Josh Hunter’s endearingly gormless plumber had the audience in stitches. Another notable performance came from Kelsey Stewart, whose initially comic portrayal of “mumsy” country-bumpkin Jenny gave way to a poignant reflection on the stifling pressures and sacrifices of motherhood.

The Pegg Theatre’s intimate setting plunged the audience right into the midst of Becky’s suffocating domestic life, with cleverly rendered physical theatre documenting her bike-riding excursions. Opening night nerves may have been detectable in some of the initial set and costume changes, but the audience were more than happy to overlook these in favour of this otherwise brilliant performance, a blend of provocative comedy and nuanced tragedy that left us longing for more.

Performances continue tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm.

Tickets can still be bought for tonight’s performance here: https://www.ubutheatre.com/villagebike/

Jess is a final year English student at Bristol. Coming from Belfast, one of her favourite sources of amusement are the constant attempts (by friends and strangers alike) to master the elusive Northern Irish accent. She also loves spending time exploring Bristol with friends and sampling the city's culinary and cultural offerings.
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