June's bumper crop of theatre - the round up
The Pride of Sheffield

A slightly bumpy ride on The Village Bike

Villagebike I have a little problem with The Village Bike at the Royal Court despite it being very good in the main. It feels refreshingly contemporary in many respects.

Becky (Romola Garai) is in the early stages of pregnancy and as horny as hell but hubby John (Nicholas Burns) has gone all super-Dad-to-be and sees her as mother rather than lover.

For a while porn satisfies Becky, digging into the stash she and John used to enjoy together but when temptation comes in the form of village-neighbour Oliver, who is selling her a push-bike, she embarks on a passionate and elaborate fuck-fest.

And here is my tiny problem:

"I hate this whole thing, like women can't have sex without getting emotionally involved.  It's bullshit. I've had sex with loads of me and not given a shit afterwards."

After saying it, you know Becky is going to fall for Oliver and does so with added hysterics when his wife returns from a trip away and he ends it. And I'm afraid I found it a little bit irritating.

Up until then it had been nicely examining the perception of woman and sex. Oliver doesn't do with his wife what he does with Becky because 'she's my wife' thus exposing his stereotyped perception of woman only to have Becky reinforce that stereotype. After all the promise of something that was about a modern woman it stumbled into: emotionally needy women vs emotionally aloof men; women as mothers vs woman as sexual beings.

What would have been really interesting is if Becky had had her fill and moved on and Oliver has pursued her.

It soured the second half a little after a first half of crackling wit and human insight, in fact the script is excellent. And the acting too.

There is a wonderful character, Jenny (Alexandra Gilbreath), who is another neighbour in the village, a mum of two whose husband spends most of his time away working. On the surface she is a loving, full-time mum but away from the homestead the lack of attention from her husband, adult conversation and frustration with motherhood emerge:

"Sitting at home. Going Crazy. Being told I'm an idiot by a five-year-old boy. I've got a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics but oh no! I'm just stupid old Mummy!"

I'm going to give The Village Bike four stars. It loses one for the irritation but otherwise is a solid, entertaining and thoughtful play. It's on at the Royal Court until July 30 but is sold out. However, you can get £10 tickets, released on the day, on Mondays from 9am.

Oh and can I just add that I'm a little bit in love with Dominic Rowan - he reminds me of Colin Firth in his Darcy era.


Romola Garai is the obvious one via The Hour but today the penny dropped on a second. In the audience was Joshua McGuire. Now I recognised him at the time as little* Hamlet from The Globe earlier this year but then I remembered he is also in The Hour.

PS This just in from @TRPW who has kindly pointed out that Nicholas Burns was Nathan Barley, so that'll teach me not to be lazy and settle with the obvious. Although had I discovered this at the time, I might have been tempted to accost him afterwards at the stage door about his treatment of of poor Pingu in a mad-fan style.

* He's petite of stature like myself.