|Date||16th June 2022|
|Society||Woolgatherers of Heswall|
|Venue||Pensby Girls School|
|Stage Manager||Ann Warr|
|Sound/lighting/set||Steve Schroeder. Sheri Jones. Michaël Harrison|
|Written By||John Godber|
Author: Joanne Rymer
16th June 2022
Brexit hasn’t given us much to laugh about over the last few years. But it has given us John Godber’s ‘Scary Bikers’ a mixture of acute political observation and great humour. The play premiered at Trafalgar Studio in London’s West End in 2019.
Fear not. Yes, Brexit is talked about, argued over and looming in the background, as it probably has for the majority of the UK population over the last six years, but I wouldn’t say it was the focal point. It is a very amusing story about two people just attempting to get on with life.
Don (Kevin Roberts) and Carol (Claire Tagg) play the protagonists, also the ghosts of their deceased partners who appear whenever Don and Carol are having second thoughts. This self admittedly chalk and cheese couple (‘I’m the cheese”, declares Don) are brought together by the shared loss of their partners and a love of cycling.
Ex miner Don is now working as a hospital porter, nearing retirement and just about making ends meet, the scars of the miners’ strike are still raw and aggravated even further by the poverty and injustice he sees around him every day. To say that he feels let down by politics and politicians is an understatement. To him, today’s House of Commons is nothing but “a finishing school for Celebrity Big Brother”, as he describes it. Carol, on the other hand, comes from an altogether more genteel background. An ex private schoolteacher and would be artist, she now owns a cycling café and is comfortably off. After a couple of chance meetings at a graveyard, they seem to recognise kindred spirits and arrange to meet up again at the cafe.
The play directed by Gail Harrison moved along at a good pace; the back projection worked extremely well, relating their travel experiences, sound track of cars and Lorries together with Mungo Jerry ‘The Bike Song’ worked a treat. However the set appeared overcrowded, perhaps less is more with so much change of activity on stage. But these are minor quibbles, a new venue and the opening night.
Carol asks Don to join her on a two thousand pound bike ride to Florence; which has long featured on Carol’s bucket list (Don has no idea what a ‘bucket list’ is) even though he has to scrimp and save and live on ‘bread and water ‘to be able to afford it. Realising her faux pas when she offers to lend Don the funds Carol buys a ‘tandem’ to save money and makes the journey possible. The unveiling of the impressive tandem front of stage brought delighted gasps from an admiring audience.
Unfortunately, they book the departure date for 23rd June 2016 the day of the referendum. Just as they board the ferry they discover that Don is a Leaver and Carol a Remainer. Worse still, they’re on a tandem so there really is no escape from each other.
Thus, their Italian adventure begins. Watching a couple bickering over Brexit for thousands of miles could prove uncomfortable. Happily, we’re in the expert hands of John Godber here, so the banter and gags flew past. We were also treated to some great physical comedy along the way, particularly Don’s hilarious struggle with a pop-up tent.
Kevin and Claire portrayed their characters with sympathy and realism. This is a very funny play, with laughs coming regularly throughout the play. Carol holds her own, but Don has the best one liners which are enthusiastically delivered by Kevin in a deadpan matter of fact way.
‘Scary Bikers’ is a funny highly entertaining production. While it fell short of providing answers to the conundrums of Brexit (who could?), it made us laugh while pondering its message that whether you’re a Leaver or a Remainer, we’re only going to get anywhere if we work together.
Thank you, Woolgatherers, for an extremely entertaining evening in your new home. Enjoy the summer break and I hope to see you in October.