Reviews from the Fringe: The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel and Bike Face

by Lynn on July 17, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

From the Fringe.

I saw these two shows on the final day of the Fringe but think they are worthy of comment.

The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel (Act I)

At the Tarragon Theatre, (Toronto, Ont)

Book by Julie Tepperman

Music and lyrics by Kevin Wong

Directed by Aaron Willis

Cast: Troy Adams

Alan Cui

Donna Garner

Richard Lee

Hannah Levinson

Faly Mevamanana

Ben Page

Jessica Sherman

Polly Peel, aged eleven is besotted by biology. Her dotting dad, Paul, is too. Polly’s dancer sister, Paula is angry because she feels left out. And Polly’s mother Pauline is harried because she’s got a stressful job and Paul keeps on forgetting to make lunches and pick his kids up at school.  Everybody in that household is always in a hurry and chores and responsibilities are forgotten. Then something devastating happens and the whole family is caught up short and chaos and heartache results.

This is only the first Act of the musical and it’s packed with incident and songs. At times Kevin Wongs’ music and lyrics are so dense and so plentiful that one feels overwhelmed with the cleverness. Julie Tepperman’s book is sharply funny, well observed and beautifully illuminates a family in distress.

The cast is uniformly fine but the standout is Hannah Levinson as Polly. Ms Levinson continues to astonish in whatever she’s in.

Bike Face

At the Annex Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Natalie Frijia

Directed by Mandy Roveda

Performed by Clare Blackwood

Our heroine wants adventure. She loves adventure so much she decides to do a PhD on the subject, but first she must experience adventure in order to study it. So she decides to ride her bicycle across Canada. Prejudices and social restrictions from the Victorian era are often referenced as our modern day heroine goes on her trip. We here about such possible results of riding a bicycle as sterilization, maidenhood, heart attacks, insanity, death and bike face—that face one gets from the exertion of peddling.

Our heroine meets mosquitoes on the trail, wild life, Wild West Proprietors, an angry, love-sick bookstore owner, kindness, hospitality, jokers  and she meets her brave, true self.

Natalie Frijia has written a wonderful piece about being a woman in the modern day and how little we’ve come when it comes to doing something so wild as to cycle across the country. But our heroine so beautifully played by Clare Blackwood, has such spirit, such an open heart and a keen sense of observation perception about human nature that she has us cheering for her from the beginning to end.

I hope Bike Face has another life.

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