Sink Or Shpin

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Those who think comedy’s getting too predictable as it spreads across all corners of the telly isn’t looking hard enough. In the past two nights, I’ve been served concepts instead of food in Simon Munnery’s avant-garde restaurant of the soul, indulged in a food fight (with real food) thanks to New Art Club, and now visited a comedy show set in a Spin-bike exercise class.

Different doesn’t equate to brilliant, though, and this is a concept in need of a lot more comic thought. The basic premise is that instructor Clement – a character 95 per cent defined by his irritating French accent – is trying to teach us experimental new techniques. But it soon emerges he is using his static bike as an emotional replacement for his ex-wife; who had the audacity to run off with a non-stationary cyclist.

There’s a frisson of excitement in most site-specific pieces, and this is no exception. As you descend to the basement of a barely-marked former warehouse on the edge of the City Of London, there’s something in the air that isn’t just the sweat of the genuine class that comes out just before us.

So we take our places beside our bikes, and spend a few moments adjusting the saddle and familiarising ourselves with the equipment. You’ve heard of shows that are ball-achingly funny; position yourself wrongly here, and it’s just ball-aching.

Riding a spin bike is like making love to a beautiful woman, we are told, in not quite so many words: sometimes there is a lot of resistance, sometime things run smoothly. That’s pretty much the peak of the writing; and although there are some enjoyable bits of over-the-top physical business, Donal Coonan’s creation is too thinly-drawn, so the shenanigans feel rather empty.

Largely the show struggles to justify us being in the saddle for the full hour. At one point we have to pretend to be bulls; heads down by the handlebars, ready to charge. Later we stand and pretend we’re riding an elephant through India. Then let’s dance in out seats, like we’re at a Paris discotheque.

Yes, it’s kindergarten time, playing follow the teacher, each exercise taking a minute or two where the script doesn’t need to do anything. This isn’t recreating a child-like state, though, it’s just being juvenile. The mood is rather crassly imposed, too – forced jollity rather than being teased out from within the audience.

All the while Clement barks out instructions to us, getting carried away with some of the scenarios as they remind him of his ex-wife, all done with larger-than-life melodramatics rather than subtlety subtlety. Nor is there much charm, at least until we near the end when, chastised by gym owner Dan, played by Moj Taylor, he sheepishly realises he’s got carried away.

Actually, we must take care not to call this a Spin session. The company that owns that particular trademark, America’s Mad Dogg Athletics, fired a legal broadside against the producers of this show, which debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. And you can understand why; I wouldn’t want my brand tarnished by this, either.

If your baseline is your weekly spin class, you may find the over-the-top shenanigans and unusual use of a familiar space nicely subversive. But judged against other comedy shows, it feels as fragile as Lance Armstrong’s credibility.

Review date: 12 Oct 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Boom! Cycle

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.