Spin – Hysteria Festival – Buddies in Bad Times

By Crystal Wood

SpinI attended a workshop presentation of Spin, by theatre creator Evalyn Parry, it was a one-night event as part of the Hysteria Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Spin is a multi-disciplinary piece featuring: music, spoken-word poetry, monologues and visual projections. Made up of approximately a dozen segments, I felt the same way about Spin that I do about CDs. (A fitting analogy, I hope, as Parry is also a musician and was in fact selling her CD last night.) What I mean is that I generally don’t like every song on a CD. I love some songs, like a few, and then there are one or two that I feel should probably have been left off entirely. (My show partner, Joanne, was trying to come up with a bicycle metaphor on the way home. Something about how you can love the handlebar streamers but still find the banana seat uncomfortable? I think mine works better).

To summarize briefly, this is a theatre piece about bikes. To flesh it out in more detail, it’s a play about a lot of things. I mean, a lot of things: Bikes are erotic. The history of bikes. Bikes were the original feminist tool. Bikes are a symbol of relationships and love. Victorian bike attitudes were silly. Bikes were the origin of all that is evil about consumerism. Igor Kenk, the Toronto bike thief.

Like I said, a lot of things.

Fortunately, Evalyn Parry is a skilled performer, poet and musician with that “it” magnetism that draws you in. Her back-up musicians provided entertaining contributions, including Brad Hart who played the bicycle like it was an instrument, – the leather seat as a drum, the spokes as guitar strings, and the handlebar bell as, well, a bell.

All in all, I came away interested in hearing more of Parry’s music, but wishing she had trimmed a few bits and focused on the more compelling scenes. In particular, there was one song that Jo dubbed “the scary song” called The Names of the Chains that didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the piece. However, her story of the bike her former lover bought for her was both a moving and strong contribution.

Though there were a few areas that could be tweaked, Spin was clean, original and for the most part well-prepared. (A few long transitions, like Parry changing her costume onstage, slowed the pace of the piece.)

We were also pleased to see a packed house on a Sunday night. Hopefully, the rest of the Hysteria Festival does as well.


Performances run until October 31 at 8pm
Prices are PWYC to $10, with a $15 evening pass and $50 festival pass available
Tickets available in person, or by calling 416-975-8555
Check Out the Buddies in Bad Times website for more information on the Hysteria Festival.

Photo of Evalyn Parry, courtesy of www.artsexy.ca