Theater Review: RED BIKE (Moxie Theatre Company)

Post image for Theater Review: RED BIKE (Moxie Theatre Company)

by Milo Shapiro on February 3, 2020

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


Red Bike immediately presents a huge challenge to a director. Caridad Svich’s script contains no stage directions (and little punctuation, even) and reads like a lengthy poetry slam. This creates both a tremendous burden and glorious opportunity for a director to bring her verse-like prose to life. Moxie Theatre director Lisa Berger rises to the occasion in full force, putting her two performers (Timothy L. Cabal and Nancy Ross) through serious choreography, rarely letting them catch their breath before more blocking is used to enhance the meaning of Svich’s words. Be it running around what looks like a Hot Wheels race car set (inspired scenic design by Alondra Velez), pole dancing, or leaping from place to place like frogs, Berger tests the limits of this intimate space. The performers are running a marathon and achieve the frenetically paced energy that Berger desires, in some ways reflecting a kid’s energy and in other ways just keeping the meter lively.

The story is told in the first person, with Cabal and Ross both playing the unnamed, main character of the story, switching back and forth, sometimes within one sentence (the show can be done with 1, 2 or more actors). The gender of the character is never defined, as it is irrelevant. The players are referred to in the playbill as “A” and “M” but no reference to these monikers exist within the dialogue. Besides sharing the role of the main character/narrator, both performers also play people around the storyteller’s small town. In fact, each of them plays the same roles at times; through light costuming, voice inflection, and body positioning you easily determine if the actor is now the old bus driver, the building investor, etc.

The production itself is terrific. Cabal and Ross deserve high praise for their energy, nuance, and commitment. The problem is the artsy script. There is no really plot here. Essentially, it comes down to the main character having great love for their red bike and all the things that go through their mind as the bike careens dangerously out of control going downhill after hitting an oily patch. Literally, most of the show is in those long cutaways as they go from the top of the hill to the bottom, anticipating the great accident to come. Some of the themes relate to small towns dying, consumerism out of control, coming of age, and poor vs. rich. The meaning of whole other sections completely eluded this reviewer in their symbolism.

Many years ago, Newsday reviewed the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show,  giving it the never before seen review of “**(**).” This was a signal that, depending upon your taste, this movie could be a tour de force … or you might shrug it off as rather impenetrable. Red Bike is a similar production: Some may go for the highly-symbolic, verse-like writing and will performance art; others would bolt had there been an intermission in this 90-minute one-act. Moxie has every reason to be proud of their dynamic staging of Red Bike; it’s just not for everyone, even if they truly love theater.

photos by Daren Scott

Red Bike
Moxie Theatre Company
6663 El Cajon Blvd.
Thurs at 7:30; Fri & Sat at 8;
Sat at 2
ends on Feb 16, 2020
for tickets, call 858-598-7620
or visit Moxie

Comments on this entry are closed.