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Review: Symphonie of the Bicycle at The Space Theatre

Symphonie of the Bicycle by Hew Parham is a captivating theatrical production that intertwines physical theatre, multimedia, and narrative storytelling to celebrate the joy, history, and cultural impact of bicycles and the Tour de France.

Parham, known for his dynamic performance style, masterfully combines humour, poignant moments, and a touch of whimsy to create a rich, immersive experience.

The show is a one-hander, with Parham embodying multiple characters and reciting various stories that highlight the significance of bicycles throughout different eras and societies. His versatility as a performer is evident as he shifts seamlessly between personas, bringing each character to life with distinct voices, mannerisms, and emotional depth. The transitions are smooth and often infused with a comedic touch that keeps the audience engaged and entertained.

A standout aspect of Symphonie of the Bicycle is its innovative use of multimedia. Projections, soundscapes, and music are cleverly integrated, enhancing the storytelling and providing a dynamic backdrop that complements Parham’s physicality. The sound design, in particular, deserves special mention for its ability to evoke the sensation of cycling through various landscapes, from bustling urban environments to serene countryside paths.

The narrative structure of the play is both linear and episodic, allowing Parham to explore a wide range of themes related to bicycles. From historical anecdotes about the invention and evolution of the bicycle to personal stories of individuals whose lives have been profoundly impacted by cycling, the play offers a multifaceted exploration of its subject matter. Parham’s deep passion for bicycles is evident throughout, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Symphonie of the Bicycle is a triumph of collaborative theatre, with Chris Drummond’s insightful direction, Will Spartalis’s evocative sound design, and Wendy Todd’s innovative costumes and lighting all contributing to a production that is as visually and aurally stimulating as it is emotionally engaging.

Drummond’s meticulous attention to detail and his understanding of the narrative’s emotional beats ensure that the performance flows smoothly and maintains a dynamic pace. His collaboration with Parham is evident in the coherence and fluidity of the show, as he guides the actor through multiple character transitions and emotional arcs. Drummond’s direction emphasizes the thematic richness of the play, highlighting the universal appeal of the bicycle as both a historical artifact and a symbol of freedom.

Spartalis’s work effectively captures the essence of cycling, from the rhythmic sounds of pedalling and the whoosh of wind to the bustling noise of urban environments and the serene ambiance of countryside rides. The soundscapes he creates are not just background elements but integral parts of the narrative, evoking specific moods and settings that transport the audience into the world of the performance.

Todd’s lighting design is both subtle and impactful, creating atmospheres that shift in tandem with the story’s emotional and thematic changes. Her design uses colour, intensity, and shadow to highlight key moments, underscore dramatic shifts, and maintain the audience’s focus.

Their combined efforts ensure that the play not only tells a compelling story but also creates a rich, multi-layered experience for the audience.

Together, the soundscape, lighting and actor are the stars of the show.

Symphonie of the Bicycle is a celebration of a simple yet transformative invention that has touched countless lives, and it’s a must-see for anyone who has ever felt the wind in their hair while riding a bike.

4 ½  stars


Lia Loves.


Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

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