Known for its pop-up performances in abandoned spaces, Theatre Delicatessen staged its original production of Pedal Pusher in 2009 in a disused London workshop. It’s quasi-documentary style explores the theatrical nature of the Tour De France and allegations of drug use through the lives and deaths of some of its greatest heroes. With the original play taking place before Lance Armstrong’s spectacular fall from grace – stripped of every title after 1998 – it is fascinating to watch the story unfold in retrospect.
Creator Roland Smith steers an extremely difficult path through the myths of Le Tour in order to establish perspective on the sport and the impact of performance-enhancing drugs on its history. This necessary exposition threatens to hamper the pace, but thankfully the power of the story and the set pieces of physical theatre gradually build to a genuinely exciting climax.
Tom Daplyn’s spirited but doomed Marco Pantani exhibits all the exuberance expected of the Italian champion. But it is Christopher Tester’s incisive take on the internationally known Armstrong who becomes the natural focus of this play. Arrogant, dogmatic and ultimately self-delusional, we also see the man struggling to survive cancer and excelling in a sport already blighted with allegations of drug abuse.
- Guardian House, London
- September 16-October 11, PN September 18
- Author/director: Roland Smith
- Design: Dan Ball set, Fergus Waldron sound, Alexander Guiney movement
- Technical: Nadine Westveer de Mul and Ben Glover stage management
- Cast: Gergo Danka, Tom Daplyn, Christopher Tester, Gareth Kennerley
- Producer: Theatre Delicatessen, Jessica Brewster
- Running time: 2hrs 10mins
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