Although it dominated our lives, Brexit has so far made surprisingly few appearances on stage, for obvious reasons. It is, however, a key topic – along with grief and cycling – in this humane, funny and perceptive two-hander written by John Godber.
The play presents us with an odd couple brought together by loss and a love of bikes.
Don, an ex-miner and now a porter at Pontefract hospital, is grieving over the death of his wife. Carol, a teacher and would-be artist, she is a widow haunted by the passing of her architect husband. But, after a chance graveside encounter, the two of them discover they have a shared passion for cycling. Rashly they set off on a bike-and-train trip to Florence on the day of the 2016 referendum, (who remembers that?) only to realise that they are on opposite sides of the argument about Europe.
Godber has a gift for evoking a whole world through a single line, as when the celibate Don gloomily remarks “a mate set me up with a date in a curry house in Scarborough”. There is also much funny business with tents when the stranded pair are forced to spend a night together under canvas. But the heart of the play lies in Don’s explanation of his decision to vote leave, which dates back to the scars left by the miners’ strike of 1984 and which is fuelled by his daily confrontation with deprivation and poverty. Carol counters by pointing out the illogicality of Don’s description of politicians as “bloody clowns” and belief in their promise to divert savings on Europe to the NHS.
The irony, however, is that the couple are mutually dependent since they are crossing the continent on a tandem.
So, slip into your lycra and embark with us on this hilarious and heart-warming adventure, as the grieving new couple reminisce about the past, argue about the present and grow anxious for the future, you’ll be wishing you were along for the ride
Mike Lawlor is directing Scary Bikers by John Godber on 24th September -1st October.