Few will perhaps have heard of Annie Londonderry, but after seeing Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams’ Ride, it will be practically impossible to forget the name.
Upon her return to the States, Annie Londonderry (Liv Andruiser), with the help of Martha (Yuki Sutton) pitches and recreates her record setting bike ride around the world, blurring the lines between fact and fiction to the point where even we can't tell which is which.
The story and action that occur onstage become much bigger than the four walls of Amy Jane Cook’s set, both literally and figuratively in just about every way imaginable. Sarah Meadows’ direction hints at an element of self-awareness within the show itself. It is hard to tell whether this is due to the innate humour, the fourth wall breaks that bring and make us part of the story, or the underlying message about the nature of stories and the lines between truth and fiction, but whatever it is, Ride is completely enthralling and provides us with an escape. This show is deep, multi-faceted and shows an incredible amount of heart beyond the initial lively and mischievous introduction that we receive, an arc reflected in the jazzy, charleston-esque score that infuses the show with energy. The score contains so much meaning hidden in the little details, like the repeating melodies, motifs and the lyrics themselves that just lifts the entire musical up.
The give and take between Andruiser and Sutton is the foundation of this show, as they play off of each, providing contrast and building on each other’s performances. They are both incredibly talented; Sutton in the way that she changes quickly between the various supporting characters and Andruiser simply to the vivacity she brings to the role. The pair’s determination, audacity and general excellence is incredibly enjoyable to watch. Sutton’s range is remarkable and her development of Martha’s character a true testament to her skill. Tackling the role with a lot of emotional maturity, Andruiser is a whirlwind of a performer, darting around and causing chaos as she navigates Annie’s story. The strength of her voice is astonishing in and of itself, and coupled with her interpretation of the role, the sheer emotional weight she throws behind every gesture, the way she carries herself and expression, well, needless to say Andruiser has us twisted around her finger.
Giving Annie Londonderry the moment in the sun that she deserves, Ride is just astonishing. This musical completely surpasses all expectations and is a musical that everyone should have on their list.