Review: Spin (Outspoke Productions)

By George Perry

Photo of Evalyn Parry in Spin by Tanja-Tiziana, doublecrossed.ca

Spin, written and performed by Evalyn Parry, previewed at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on March 15 in Toronto. I strongly suggest you cycle on over before it closes on March 27.

Spin is like nothing I’ve seen before. Part spoken word performance, part rock concert, part political manifesto, but completely awesome. It’s a play about passion; it’s a play about Lust For Life.

I’d never been to Buddies in Bad Times before, and what a mistake that has been. Buddies is a wonderful venue. It is very comfortable, boasts super-friendly staff and provides every amenity one could ask for.

One of my favourite things in life has always been riding a bike. I love the freedom, the thrill and borderline danger, the isolation and time to think while also exploring new parts of the world.

These days, my shattered hip, pelvis and spine beg to differ. Getting out of bed can be a challenge. Putting on a pair of pants can require a team of professionals. Some days cycling is a challenge, but as they say “no pain, no gain.” This is the kind of passion that cycling enthusiasts, their family and friends have to deal with. It’s also the kind of passion that Evalyn Parry brings to stage.

So seeing Spin at Buddies, and meeting a couple of people from Niagara, really made me happy.

Evalyn Parry takes centre stage and is flanked by a musician on either side. Anna Friz lights up stage left, playing a variety of instruments, namely the synth and accordion. Meanwhile, Brad Hart blossoms while playing an old bicycle stage right. The spokes, frame and seat all produce different, fascinating sounds played like instruments by Hart.

Parry is incredible at painting so many vivid mental pictures. Seeing her with Friz and Hart brought back another passionate memory: seeing Bjork for the first time. Instead of Matmos creating music with an electric tattoo needle, Hart creates music using a dangling bike. Instead of a symphony, Friz uses a synth and accordion.

Parry creates a wonderfully precise rhythm. It’s hard to not fall victim to her spell: like taking a cross-Canada train, you’ll love her ride.

She’ll teach you about some extraordinary women, but not lecture. She’ll tell you how Henry Ford stole the idea for an assembly line after he saw a bike factory. She’ll remind you that the Wright brothers developed flight after being bike mechanics.

It won’t be preachy though, and it won’t be sad. It might just get you off your behind and put a smile on your face.

I thought it interesting that Parry brings up the idea of being married to a company. She introduces us to Annie Londonderry. Annie was the first woman to cycle around the globe. Originally born in Latvia, Annie changed her last name to the company that sponsored her. She also sold parts of her body for advertising. In that respect, Annie Londonderry was a corporate whore.

These days, most people sell their souls to the company before they email their resumes. I`m not so sure I’d pick Annie as a freedom fighter.

Parry on the other hand, is most certainly a captivating performer.

There were a Lot of things to like about this play. Parry is incredibly charismatic. The story she tells, not only about the bicycle, but also about women’s rights, is important. We’ve come a long way, baby!

It was incredible running into cycling and theatre nuts from Niagara at the show. They made the trip up from St. Catharines and represent the kind of passion that makes life worth living. Bless those grape stompers from down south!

Visiting Buddies for the first time was incredible. What a hidden gem of a theatre, and what a great performance from Evalyn Parry. I look forward to many future visits.

Details:

Spin is playing until March 27, 2011 at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto (Just off of Yonge between College and Wellseley

– Performances are at 8pm, Wednesday to Sunday

– Tickets range from $16 to $20, with a discount available for students

– For tickets, call 416-975-8555, or visit www.buddiesinbadtimes.com

Photo of Evalyn Parry by Tanja-Tiziana, doublecrossed.ca

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