Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

A singer-songwriter and a bicycle-playing percussionist invite audiences to join them on a musical interlude around an object of great social significance: The bicycle. Are you hooked? At its core, Spin show is a love-letter to bicycles, and the women who loved them. What emerges is a performance that is great fun, though it ultimately values substance at the expense of form.

In a series of vignettes, creator/musician/actress/activist evalyn parry boldly strings a narrative that broaches social resistance movements, feminism, and the evolution of bipedal locomotion. All of this and more! The show is thematically tied together through the humble bicycle, and even more so since percussionist Brad Hart compliments the performance by using a bicycle as a musical instrument.

And it works: With each song, parry introduces women whose impact on the world was, at least in part, tied to their love of cycling. It is the kind of feel-good performance that makes you want to ride your bike right through glass ceilings.

The show is a musical documentary of sorts, and Parry approaches the subject matter with a sense of hmour and irony. Parry takes on different characters during various songs– transforming slightly through the use of some basic props (a mustache, glasses, or hat, for example). The presentation also showcases an unimpressive use of projection: Images of exactly what the songs are about appear on a projection screen behind parry. But ultimately, the staging is secondary in what reads as a musician-activist performance. The songs themselves are extremely catchy. They will stick to your brain like Velcro, for better or for worse.

The issue that arises with the performance is the breadth of the topics that have been woven into this show. It is a patchwork quilt of ideas and badly needs an edit. It is first autobiographical, then it is documentary, then activist anthem; it is a truly dizzying blend of topics. The result is the feeling of a “false crescendo” – a show that seems to be going one direction, and arriving at another.

Created & performed by evalyn parry

Featuring Brad Hart on the bicycle

Directed by Ruth Madoc-Jones

Projections & production design by Beth Kates