FRINGE 2013 – Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle – Bakehouse Theatre – 4K


By Alana Massalsky

“Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle”:  got quite a nice ring to it thinks Russell, could be a punchy title for a travel book.  Too bad Bombay is now called Mumbai, and to write a book about it he’ll have to actually do it.

Russell McGilton is our tour guide for the duration of this play, taking the audience on a frenetic journey – a  first-hand account unlike any you’d read in a Bill Bryson book or Lonely Planet guide.  It’s completely unsanitised (in more ways than one), and all the better for it.

Our journeyman sets out with confidence, but of course things quickly go awry.  Helped out by a little bit of malaria we are ushered through feverish flashbacks.  The infuriatingly curious, ever (un)helpful locals, the unfamiliar gastronomically volcanic cuisine, the toll of endless cycling on one’s bottom and balls.  Factor in a holiday romance that outstays its welcome and a mosquito net that’s not big enough for two, and we begin to put the puzzle pieces together.

Although this is a one man show we get to meet a vast array of eccentric characters.  Russell slips easily into the skin of each, sometimes disconcertingly so.  A stand-out is the absurdly cheerful Dr Chawla who greets our hero with “Congratulations.  You are having the malaria”.

This is a fun show.  Not always funny, but always admirable for Russell’s complete commitment to the production.  He might be ambivalent about bike touring through India, but you’ll find no such ambivalence here.  Get on your bike and head to the Bakehouse, Russell will be telling tales until the end of the Fringe.

Kryztoff rating 4K

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