breaks & bikes
Well executed and intensely human
Pavement Group presents
breaks & bikes
Review by Anuja Vaidya
Lives intertwine and collide when a 31-year-old finds himself in a coma after a motorcycle accident. Expected and unexpected faces surround his hospital bed, and breaks & bikes astutely explores the relationships that bind and separate them as they deal with the blow all their lives have been dealt.
Drew, the aforementioned 31-year-old, lies comatose in the hospital. Over the course of the play we meet his mother, Deb, his friend, Jason, his ex-girlfriends, Cass and Ali, and his self-professed “friend-wife” Devin. As they awkwardly wait together in the hospital, they grapple with what his accident means to each of them. Drew’s relationships with Cass, Allie and Devin form the crux of the play. Each seems to have unanswered questions and a sense of bitterness about their relationship with him, but each feels a sense of entitlement of him. The tensions that exist between them play out, giving us insight into Drew’s life and personality. We also hear from Drew himself, who speaks to the audience (and to the characters onstage although nobody can hear him) and fills in bits of the story.
The script is well-structured, believable and character-driven. Small details like carefully picked ringtones for each character’s cell phone make them come alive. Perhaps the most compelling relationship is the one between Drew and Devin. The lyrics from “Anyone else, but you” by The Moldy Peaches best describes their friendship – “You’re a part-time lover and a full-time friend”. For years, their friendship has been rooted in support and physical intimacy. Drew’s girlfriends have been wary of Devin’s place in his life and Devin has never felt intimate with any man other than him.
The cast does a laudable job all around. Sasha Gioppo plays Cass particularly well, bringing out her conflicted feelings about being there for her ex-boyfriend. You get the sense that she doesn’t know why exactly she is waiting with everybody else at the hospital when things between her and Drew didn’t end well, but at the same time, she can’t leave. Cyd Blakewell plays the sharp and witty Devin with ease, illustrating the complexities of her characters relationship with Drew. Morgan McCabe, as Deb, is wonderful. Deb comes across as scattered but is incredibly endearing. Keith Neagle as Jason, would have gone unnoticed had it not been for his hilarious rant about his character’s ex-girlfriend. Comedic moments are few and far between in this rather serious play, but Jason’s outburst is certainly one of them.
One of the reasons this play succeeds is because it remains focused on these few characters, and through them portrays the sense of being confused and still trying to figure your life out. None of the characters, including Deb, seem particularly settled and all of them seem to be nursing a sense of bitterness about the way their lives are unfolding.
However, the final message of the play is hopeful. It leaves you with the idea that the pain and bitterness felt towards both their respective lives, and Drew’s accident will melt away in time, and that the characters will find resolution.
The conclusion of the play doesn’t wrap things up neatly and leaves you with a sense that the characters have a long way to go, making this play a relatable look into the challenges of life and love.
breaks & bikes continues through December 9th at Flat Iron Arts Building, Collaboraction Studio 300, 1579 N. Milwaukee (map), with performances Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 6pm. Tickets are $25, and are available online through TicketWeb.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at PavementGroup.org. (Running time: 1 hour 5 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Emily Schwartz
behind the scenes
Kathryn Walsh (director); Mike Falvetis (asst. director); Mary Krupka (production assistant); Monica Brown (stage manager); Rick Combs (tech director); Shaun Renfro (scenic design); Janna Webber (lighting); David Federman (master electrician); Jeff Kelley (original composition, sound design); Aimee Plant (props); Melissa Torchia (costumes); Brittany D. Barnes (managing director); Luke Williams (graphics); Kelsey Wilk (asst. to the playwright); Emily Schwartz (photos)