A story teller has to amuse, to entice, to astonish an audience. In the process, she must also give her listeners something to think about.
Evalyn Parry is a story teller.
And there was much to entice, amuse and astonish in her splendid, thought provoking show, Spin, performed at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, November 24.
Parry is an amazing, versatile performer, with a strong vocal range and an equally strong acting range. On Saturday night she shared her stage with fellow musician Brad Hart, and with an unexpected performer, a vintage 1972 CCM bicycle.
I say ‘performer’ because the bike was an integral part of the Parry’s show, as its frame and wheels were made to ‘sing’ and to accompany her musically at intervals throughout the production. It was really a revelation to me, and I suspect to many in the audience, to discover how a bike could be such an innovative force in a musical production.
But then, Evalyn Parry’s entire show revolved around bicycles. It also revolved around the extraordinary computer generated images on a stage screen behind her.
Parry’s focus was the story of Annie Londonderry, a name clearly unknown to virtually all of us in the audience.
Yet in 1892, this 23 year old mother of three left her husband and children to become the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world. She had numerous adventures, survived through every type of terrain, shrewdly sported the logos of several Victorian sponsors on her evolving riding costumes, and, in the process, could be said to have started a female ‘revolution.’
“What would you do for a fee?/
What would you do to be free?/
What would you do to prove what a woman can be?” Parry sang.
In Parry’s show, Annie and the bicycle become the metaphors for change.
“…trying to stay free in a world spinning webs to catch us../
We’d never get anywhere without resistance like a foot on a pedal…”
Evalyn Parry’s show was unique, an exciting blend of music, of original vocals, of acting and of technology. She effortlessly slipped in and out of characters on the stage: the pompous businessmen who saw Annie as a kind of travelling billboard, the preachers thundering that bicycles meant the downfall of womankind, since the bicycle was a “sterility machine.”
Spin is full of music, full of sound, full of visual interest. With humour and insight it celebrates the awakening of the female spirit, still carrying on in women today.
Spin is a musical tour de force for artist and story teller, Evalyn Parry.
I have the feeling that she very firmly agrees with the words of H. G. Wells, which were projected on the screen behind her when the show opened.
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”