“Take the ‘e’ out of emotion and what do you get?”
“You get where you want to be.”
And that’s all there is to it. Well, that’s all there is to the single-minded, professional cyclist’s mind. Motion, written by Rosie Frecker and Sally Reichardt explores the limiting yet strangely empowering world of high-level professional sport, following the ascent and descent of Reichardt’s career.
The stage is just a woman; a woman and her bike. A woman and her bike and her Lycra. Melissa tell us of how her competitive nature manifested when she was younger, racing oblivious strangers down the road on the way to school, or playing her identical twin sister (who she is 23 minutes older than!). AS she got older, she got better. With that came the thrill- the need to be even better, even stronger, even faster. Eventually, she reached a limit. But as we know all too well- there is a flexible limit with cycling. She faces the difficult decision – will she ‘level’ the playing field with performance-enhancing substances? It’s not even cheating, she decides. It’s only fair…
This decision leads to her loneliest moments after she is stripped bare of all she really has – her bike. Despite success, this tells us, her elevated status has made her not happy, but when it comes down to it- overwhelmingly lonely.
The competitive mind set she portrays is all too familiar to a London-dweller. Sadly, it was acutely relatable even to a non-cycling layman: that race through the barriers of the tube, or up the escalator, or into the lunchtime queue at the supermarket are all manifestations of this competitive spirit. It is sad to think that everything has become a competition- individualism on steroids. Perhaps something everyone could take away from Motion is a sense of temperance and perspective. When it feels like the most important thing in the world to shave half a millisecond off your journey by cutting up the tourist in front of you who couldn’t be walking slower, perhaps we need to take a step back, breathe, and relax.
Stylistically, the writing in this play switches between naturalistic and a rhythmic, rhyming spoken word. These more structured moments tended to be when Mellissa was on her bike, in her element. This was extremely effective in creating a sense of her being caught up in the moment, reflected by the words were caught up in each other.
Frecker and Reichardt have created difficult thing; a one-man play that keeps up momentum and movement for a full hour. It is dangerously relatable, moving between comic moments of uncomfortable laughter when you are thinking ‘me too’, and more profound moments of poignancy when you worry where the limit is. Motion suggests an insight and writing prowess that makes me excited for what his duo come out with next.
Motion played the Drayton Arms Theatre on the 30th October and the 6th November.