The convergence of talent in Red Line Productions current staging of The Village Bike makes it a rare and thrilling theatre experience. Penelope Skinner’s sharp, unapologetically vulgar script, a cast of capable, intuitive actors and the brilliant set design by Anna Gardiner & Martelle Hunt come together under the keen direction of Rachel Chant in this exploration of the complexities of human sexuality.
Becky (Gabrielle Scawthorn) is the young, newly pregnant, insatiably horny wife of John (Benedict Wall), an overly socially conscientious prude whose academic obsession with all things “baby” has completely supplanted his libido. Frustrated beyond restraint, Becky succumbs to the charms of a local cad, Oliver (Rupert Reid) from whom she has purchased a bicycle. With the impending return of his temporarily absent wife, Alice (Kate Bookalil) Oliver abruptly ends the affair, to the dismay of the now fixated Becky. Becky vengefully turns her attention to the plumber, Mike (Jamie Oxenbould). Meanwhile, neighbour Jenny (Sophie Gregg) whose chronically errant husband has left her verging on a nervous breakdown caring for their two young children, brings counterpoint to the sexual tension with comically mis-timed, over-enthused helpfulness.
Flame-haired, supple-limbed Scawthorn with her wildly expressive face plays Becky like a “Carmen” turned up a few degrees. This is perfectly juxtaposed to Wall’s clergy-like, impossibly naive John.
A mere surface interpretation does injustice to the insightful writing of Skinner and the nuanced ambiguity in the performances, allowing for a deeper, more complex narrative.
Gardiner and Hunt do wonders with the tiny theatre, with a static set that represents several locations, allowing the pace to be quick and seamless.
Definitely worth the ride!
Until Jul 8, Tue-Sat 8:15pm, Sun 6:30pm. The Old Fitz, 129 Dowling St (Cnr of Cathedral St), Woolloomooloo. $30-$42. Tickets & Info: www.redlineproductions.com.au
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.