The chairs are set in a square, with four actors sitting on one side of Wilbury’s massive theatre space. We are about to watch Caridad Svich’s 80-minute, one-act play, part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.
Svich wrote the play to be performed as a monologue or a two- or three-character production. Director Kate Bergstrom has chosen four actors, plus a fifth, Jason Quinn, to provide background music and play one character at the end.
The cast of Sarah Leach, Allison Lewis-Towbes, Marcel Mascaro and Phoenix Williams work in concert and ensemble to make the four pre-adolescents come to life as they tell of their joys, fears, dreams and envy living in a small, dying town.
The Red Bike is a metaphor for their journey through a confusing world and difficult time, as they question the older folks in their lives and the monsters they face in trying to understand what their lives are all about.
A bell and scoreboard keep track of the 50 brief scenes that move rapidly, capturing the youth perspective on growing up at a time and place filled with uncertainty.
At times they feel invincible, like they are the center of the universe. At others they feel invisible, as their parents and elders act like they are not even there. They make lists of their dreams and aspirations, riding their red bikes through a poverty stricken small town and hoping for a better future.
The play is filled with movement as Svich’s words are spoken, at times in unison, and filled with metaphors. It is an interesting journey that raises more questions than answers, but one that gives an interesting and poignant look inside the minds and hearts of a generation that will inherit what we older folks have left them.
I saw the play in previews, and all four actors had their timing down perfectly and played well off each other. Leach and Williams are Wilbury stalwarts, while Lewis-Towbes and Mascaro are bright, new, talented additions to the company.
Artistic Director Josh Short explained that The National New Play Network is an alliance of professional theatres that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce and extend the life of new plays.
Wilbury’s involvement adds another dimension to the growing theatre scene in Rhode Island.
“Red Bike” has a short run through March 3. If you like new and innovative theatre, you won’t want to miss it. Call 400-7100 or go online at www.thewilburygroup.org for reservations.