Symphonie of the bicycle: you’d be bonking mad to miss it

Symphonie of the Bicycle REVIEW
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Hew Parham’s one man show Symphonie of the bicycle played to a full Space Theatre on Thursday night. A dual narrative play, it tells us of present day Hew who is lost and feeling sorry for himself, and of Italian champion cyclist Gino Bartali who felt the pressure of the country on his shoulders when the Italian President asked him to win the Tour de France in 1938.

Symphonie of the Bicycle REVIEW

Hew’s life is thrown into the spin cycle when he is hired to work as a clown at a charity event that his once best friend Jake is holding. All the memories and resentment come flooding back. They’d met aged 10 when Jake moved with his family from Queensland. Hew that had introduced Jake to cycling and to his best friend Felicity. Both of which Jake had “stolen” from him, heading to Europe upon finishing high school because he’d been accepted into prestigious cycling circles and taking Hew’s best friend, and now Jake’s girlfriend, Felicity with him.


Gino is still beating himself up for his brother’s death after being hit on his bicycle by a car. His father bans him from riding his bicycle ever again. He holes himself up from everyone, even his girlfriend Adriana. He’s a man with many secrets, and the weight of guilt and the country’s expectations on him. We can feel Gino’s pain. I wanted to rush on stage and give him a hug.


Gavin Chestnut is the extremely blokey bloke who believes the way to success is tough love and never giving up. He takes Hew under his wing promising to make him a champion. His character provides many laughs, often simply because of his ridiculousness.


Parham incarnates all of the characters in the play moving between them with ease. The use of different voices and stances is all he needs to let the audience know who he is portraying at any given moment. His mastery of clowning, which he studied in Canada, is evident. Some clever lighting later on in the Symphonie of the Bicycle allows us to flick between climatic moments in two characters’ lives – a spot from stage left for one and a spot from stage right for the other.


The script is superbly written and acted. The two parallel protagonists, Hew and Gino, at times find themselves in similar situations and the script allows us to move from one character doing x straight into the other character also doing x even though they may find themselves in the situations for completely different reasons.


The music dispersed throughout Symphonie of the Bicycle is also spot on. Whether it be classical opera to Eye of the Tiger, the soundtrack is perfectly suited to the scene it is helping to set. There are also some fantastic voiceover advertisements, which will have you laughing hard not just because of their ridiculousness but also because they seem so apt and possibly real.


There is no need to know anything about cycling to appreciate the Symphonie of the Bicycle. While cycling may be the vehicle around which the story is told, there is something for everyone cyclists and non-cyclists alike to appreciate and take home from this piece. Parham truly is King of the Mountains for writing and acting in this solo ride.


Symphonie of the bicycle is a ride that will have you laughing one moment before changing gears and having your eyes welling up with tears in the next. It’s a perfectly balanced and powerful play which challenges the conceptions of success and masculinity and will linger with you long after you’ve left the theatre.


Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of State Theatre Company of South Australia



WHAT: Symphonie of the Bicycle, a play written by and starring Hew Parham

WHERE: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

WHEN: The show will be performed on the following dates and times:

Wed 22 May 2024, 6:30 pm

Thu 23 May 2024, 7:30 pm

Fri 24 May 2024, 7:30 pm

Sat 25 May 2024, 2:00 pm

Sat 25 May 2024, 7:30 pm

HOW: Purchase your tickets via this link.

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows:


  • Adult $65.00
  • Concession $55.00
  • Under 30, Full Time Student $35.00


  • Adult $75.00
  • Concession $65.00
  • Under 30, Full Time Student $35.00

NOTE: All bookings incur an $9.25 transaction fee.


You may also like to read our interview with Hew Parham, star and writer of Symphonie of the Bicycle


For more events with links to France and the Francophonie, check out our What’s on in May


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