My Bicycle Loves You | Legs on the Wall

My Bicycle Loves You | Legs on the WallPhotos - Prudence Upton

Let me start by saying the musical aspect alone is reason enough to go and see My Bicycle Loves You (MBLY). The musicians (Luke Dubber, Eden Ottignon, Matt Ottignon and Ben Walsh) are each extremely talented, work across a variety of instruments and really set the tone for the show. MBLY features and is heavily influenced by the Corrick Collection: 135 silent films from the early 20th century that were procured or produced by the Corrick family, so placing a live band in the orchestral pit at the front of the stage recreated a real sense of vaudeville.

As anyone familiar with Legs on the Wall can tell you, their productions are far more than just theatrical performances. Firmly based in Legs on the Wall’s physical theatre style MBLY integrates the films of the Corrick Collection as well as toying with recorded and live footage of their own creation. This is all complemented by lighting/set design which is clever, resourceful and playful, and makes MBLY an experience like no other.

MBLY is a day in the life of seven characters that live together in the same apartment block. There is no traditionally structured narrative so much as the production is a collection of glimpses into the fleeting moments shared between the dwellers of the block. As the play progresses the characters reveal their true natures through their interaction with one another. Each scene flows seamlessly into the next through the manipulation of the set, props or even the performers themselves.

My one and only qualm with MBLY is that regardless of all of this I didn’t care about the characters. Without a doubt the characters exhibited tension and tenderness, but for me they didn’t grow or change. I should also note that this wasn’t the result of any short comings of the performers so much as the fragmented story and non-verbal delivery made it difficult to get to know the characters beyond their characteristics.

For example the most powerful scene for me is where Louisa tames Brian’s rage. While this is a battle of strength and will it is also very sensual and tender. The movement is exquisite and as a result it is the one scene that really touched the audience: beyond comedic relief. However in the lead up to this scene there’s no clear indication of a relationship or desire for one between the two characters and afterwards nothing is resolved/left unresolved, it is just dropped and forgotten. All that said I believe that Legs on the Wall have succeeded in what they set out to do: create an exciting show that is inventive, pushes the boundaries of what has been done and is well polished.

If I had to describe MBLY in a single sentence I would say that it is new vaudeville or a circus performance designed specifically for an adult audience (I’m referring to new circus here: not bears on unicycles). I’m grateful to have a company such as Legs on the Wall practicing and supporting the industry here in Australia, but subsequently my expectations of them are (probably unreasonably) high and in this case I think they’ve just missed the mark of what they’re capable of. What I mean by this is that they’ve stated that their intent with MBLY was to share ‘a collection of scenes which by various means reveal the particular and peculiar qualities of the characters’, and on this promise Legs on the Wall definitely deliver but I believe that as a troupe they’re more than capable of weaving a tale or analogy into their broken narrative that reveals some secret insight into the nature of ourselves. It is this absence which downgrades MBLY from brilliant to just amazing.

Presented by Sydney Festival in association with Perth International Arts Festival
My Bicycle Loves You
Legs on the Wall

Director Patrick Nolan

Venue: Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay, Walsh Bay
Previews: January 11, 12 at 8pm
Dates: January 13-15 at 8pm | January 15 at 2pm
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $60 – $25

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