Truth to be told, we’re not big live theatre goers, but it didn’t take us long to decide that SPIN, Evalyn Parry’s show at The Cultch, could be one show we shouldn’t miss. The tagline alone (“Starring the Bicycle as Muse, Musical Instrument and Instrument of Social Change”) had enough keywords to bring us on board. So by the time we dug just a little deeper into the show description and found “the true tale of Annie Londonderry” cited as a primary inspiration, our wallets were already out of our pockets. After all, we ourselves have been long fascinated by the story of Annie Londonderry, the first woman to ride solo around the world at the end of the 19th century – so fascinated, indeed, that we’ve named one of our jackets after her.
As we sat at our designated spots in the theatre and waited for the show to start, though, we realized that we were still wondering: “what kind of show exactly have we come to watch?”.
By the end of it, we’d learn that the answer to that question hold more than one unexpected plot turns, along with a 1972 CCM Galaxie bike turned into an amazing electro-acoustic bicycle instrument. With just two electric guitars, some basic props and a combination of short musical acts and spoken word, Evelyn Parry and percussionist Brian Hart weaved together stories of bikes, women and the women liberation movement, with Annie Londonderry’s pursuit of freedom on two wheels as the backbone that held together all the many layers to the story. Eventually, the thought-provoking journey took us all the way from the end of the 19th century, when both the bike and the women’s liberation movement started to take flight, to present-day North America. This is also where Evalyn’s own personal story – and, who knows? maybe even your own, as well – finds resonance and solace in Annie’s unlikely adventure.
SPIN will be playing at The Cultch until April 20th, with tickets starting as low as $17. The show will then go on to tour other Canadian locations, so you may want to check Evalyn’s Parry website for upcoming shows if you are not located in Vancouver.