Given that Brexit has bagged itself a spot in the UK headlines for the past three years, and the last couple of weeks have felt as though we are stuck in an endless game of spin the bottle, a play dealing with the current political headache seems not in the least inviting.
However, John Godber’s play Scary Bikers manages to breathe some fresh air back into the stuffy chambers. We are reminded how individual decisions led to the UK leaving the European Union, and that these can be much more personal than perhaps expected. Brexit didn’t just start on the 23rd June 2016. For many, it has its roots set in beliefs built over a lifetime.
Scary Bikers takes us on a very literal ride as we join Don, Godber, and Carol, played by Jane Thornton, as they travel to Florence via tandem bike. Two isolated individuals, Carol nearing her 60’s and Don on the way to 70, they find themselves united by the grief of losing their partners. A retired miner and now porter in an NHS hospital, Don spontaneously agrees to the trip through Europe and the two arrive on the mainland just in time to hear which way the vote has been cast. When it is revealed that Don voted to leave and Carol voted to remain, what began as a trip to cement a budding romance now ripples with political tension.
We meet our dynamic cycling duo in the bike cafe which Carol, a former teacher, runs in memory of her husband Rob, a keen cyclist. Designed by Foxton, who has worked with the John Godber Company on various occasions, the set he’s created floats seamlessly between being a public space and private living area.
Godber and Thornton are a delicious duo, both their natural chemistry and well-timed lines are endearing. Even though you might not agree with one of their political leanings, Carol and Don manage to hold our empathy and engagement throughout the whole play. Where they shine is in the physical comedy inherent to the play, constantly outdoing one another as Don wrestles a pop-up tent back into its bag and Carol dismounts the tandem stiff and unceremoniously.
Scary Bikers covers all the hot button topics around Brexit, from the headlines and hopes to the blatant lies pasted on the now infamous Brexit bus. It’s not a serious take on Brexit, but it takes Brexit seriously, asking questions and letting both sides have their say. It showcases something which seems to have broken down between the government and the people, the ability to communicate and to listen outside of your own opinion bubble.
Scary Bikers is playing until 27 April. For more information and tickets, visit the Trafalgar Studios website.