News Column

Review: Theatre: Bike Story Rowntree Park, York 24/40

July 1, 2014



Yorkshire is currently in the grip of yellow fever, with the county-wide arts festival mounted as an hors d'ouevre to the Tour de France attracting almost as much attention as the race itself. There are bicycle orchestras, land art and a new play by Maxine Peake, though nothing to match the simple charm of this freewheeling open-air performance presented by 509 Arts and scripted by Mike Kenny.

The show has been mounted in response to a public call for pedal-powered memories, which Kenny has strung together like the yellow bunting lining the route. It includes the significant reminder that the first Englishman to win a stage of the Tour de France came from Yorkshire: Brian Robinson, now 82, who bested the world's elite in 1959 because the rolling topography of Brittany reminded him of Huddersfield. There are also reminiscences of the Britain's dairy-sponsored tour, the Milk Race which once wobbled through Hebden Bridge in 1975 in the days when parts of the town were still cobbled. In the contemporary realm, a charity worker confesses to dangerous misconduct while attempting to post a personal best on the Turkish-Syrian border using the smartphone racing app Strava.

Above all, the show suggests that for many people the first giddy experience of remaining upright is a moment to rank with one's first kiss or the birth of a child. Can there be a greater instance of parental betrayal than the moment one realises the supervising adult has let go of the saddle? Or a more poignant image of the loss of a father than the quote from Hugo Williams's poem Now That I Hear Trains? "I hear him telling me, 'Keep pedalling, keep pedalling.'/ When I looked over my shoulder/he was nowhere to be seen."

Alfred Hickling

Touring until Saturday. Details: bikestory.org.uk



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Source: Guardian (UK)


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