Two talented artists create a strong, authentic story that’s just a pleasure to watch. If you’re a fan of complex characters who are bold enough to create their own life story, you’ve got to see “Ride”!
One of my favourte musical theatre songs is “Me and the Sky” from “Come from Away”. It’s a 4:36 min story of perseverance in the presence of gender discrimination and lack of support, but finally, a huge dream come true. But it’s also almost too good to be true.
And to be frank, I was expecting “Ride” to be a kind of a full-show version of the song, a perfect little story of a journey, just focused on cycling. Were my expectations met? Not really, they were exceeded in the best possible way. Instead of a picture-perfect story of a female that against all odds, made her dreams come true, you get something much more real and painful.
“Ride” is a story with a beautiful balance of travel storytelling and the emotional journey of a woman bound by social responsibilities and expectations of XIX c. As the play develops, it uncovers some surprises. The production doesn’t follow the typical travel story, and instead, turns into a deeper study of a mental journey of a woman who received a chance nobody in her time had.
The show follows the life of Annie Londonberry (originally: Annie Cohen Kopchovsky), a Jewish Latvian immigrant to the United States who in 1894–95 became the first woman to cycle around the world. After having completed her travel, she built a media career around engagement with the popular conception of what it was to be female. And that career was in many cases embellished, just like Annie’s stories from her trip, that still, until now, make it difficult to discover the whole truth about this epic journey.
Liv Andrusier as Annie creates a complex character. She starts the show by crafting a marvelous comedy stint, with over-the-top confidence. The title song of the show, performed at the beginning and referenced through the production, gives a staggering insight into Andrusier’s vocal abilities – and all I can say is, wow! As the play progresses, Annie becomes less of a comedian and more of a tragic figure, as she reveals facts from her “pre-journey” life and the societal expectations that weigh her down.
Yuki Sutton as Martha (and other characters Annie meets on the way) shines throughout the show. She effortlessly switches between a quiet office assistant, into a middle-aged man cycling through Egypt. Even without a major costume change, she crafts such strong characters, I ended up feeling excited for the next upcoming change of Sutton’s persona.
“Ride: a new musical” is a celebration of femininity, with all its flaws and imperfections. Performed by a female cast, and accompanied for the music recording by the Broadway Sonfonietta – an all-women and majority women of colour orchestra. It’s a story that conveys a strong message of being unapologetically yourself, even if it means breaking the rules and creating a new reality.
Ride: A New Musical
By Deus Ex Machina Productions, Ramin Sabi, Emily Lunnon
Book, music and lyrics by Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams
Cast: Liv Andrusier, Yuki Sutton
Charing Cross Theatre
25 August – 17 September
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