Given the currently fraught political climate, it feels like quite a feat to talk about Brexit without descending into inarticulate fury or panicked laughter. With Scary Bikers, however, John Godber manages to explore the motivations of some Leave voters in sympathetic depth, while still delivering the kind of breezy but keenly observed comedy he’s known for.
The story follows Brexiteering hospital porter Don and cycling enthusiast Remainer Carol, both grieving over the deaths of their respective partners, whose unlikely friendship sees them embark on a bucket-list bicycle tour of Europe.
It’s a companion piece of sorts to Godber’s 2015 play Shafted!, drawing a line from the turmoil of the miners’ strikes through to our present political moment, and, like Shafted!, starring the author alongside his wife and long-term collaborator Jane Thornton.
Their chemistry on stage is a pleasure to watch, relying on glances and raised eyebrows, crisply timed banter and the mild schadenfreude of watching their breathless, leg-trembling exhaustion as they furiously pedal a tandem bike fixed at the centre of award-winning designer Foxton’s pleasingly busy stage. Among this curated clutter of cycling paraphernalia and wire grids, they gradually find companionship and common ground.
It may be daft, and at times simplistic, but there’s a truthfulness in Don’s blustery swings between complete disrespect for a self-regarding political class, and a need to believe in a better future – even if that hope is as false and flimsy as a promise written on the side of a bus.