Let’s Bike America!

By Yvonne Lo

My fellow Americans, it’s time to join the ride with BIKE AMERICA by Mike Lew! The hero of Mike Lew’s BIKE AMERICA is already 4,000 miles from home when her journey begins. Lost, unmoored and on a path of self-destruction, Penny (Jessica DiGiovanni) burns every bridge she crosses and though it may be almost chemically impossible to remap the wiring of her brain, the comedic bedlam she creates turns this Alliance Theatre world premiere into a one-of-a-kind theatrical adventure.

The Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning Ma-Yi Theater Company is one of the nation’s leading theaters dedicated to developing and producing new and innovative play by Asian American Writers. They will celebrate their 25th anniversary season in 2013-2014 with the New York premiere of BIKE AMERICA which previewed on September 24th and had their official opening night on October 1st Off-Broadway at the Theater at St. Clement’s (423 W. 16th St.) in Manhattan.

Mike Lew, Juilliard School graduate, is co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab along with his wife Rehana Lew Mirza. His plays include microcrisis (Ma-Yi, NYC; InterAct, Philly; Next Act, Milwaukee); Stockton (ArcaWorks and EST workshops); and People’s Park (Victory Gardens Ignition Festival). His shorts include In Paris You will Find Many Baguettes… (Humana Festival, KY; InspiraTO Festival winner, Toronto), Roanoke (Humana), and Mustache Guys (Second Generation, NYC). He is winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition, AracaWorks Graduate Playwriting Award, Heideman Award, Sam French Festival, and Battle of the Bards. Writing in an original voice, preoccupied with time-honored themes of modern literature, Lew is very good at sketching raw and irreverent comedic shenanigans. Ever since we watched his Mustache Guys, we have been a fan of Mike’s!

Bike America is a wildly theatrical picaresque journey that crams the entire continent onto one stage. The play unfolds as a cross-country bike trip from Boston to California, with stops in big cities and small towns along the way. Our feckless heroine Penny is looking to bring more meaning into her life, to find a lifestyle that suits her and a town that feels like a home… so she drops her clingy boyfriend Todd (Vandit Bhatt) in Beantown and takes off for Santa Barbara! Along the way she befriends a colorful crew of bikers: Ryan (Tom White), the health nut biking instructor; Texan Tim Billy (Landon G. Woodson), the innocent wanderer; Annabel (Marilyn Torres) and Rorie (Melanie Nicholls-King), the badass activists couple seeking to get gay-married in every state they hit on the trip; and the mysterious Man with the Van (David Shih) who carries their stuff. We definitely enjoy the multiple roles played by one of our favorite Asian American actors David Shih in this production.

Be warned that “Bike America,” the winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, uses the “f word” a lot, contains brief flashes of nudity and requires its five biker characters to traverse the stage on little one-wheeled bikes, a theatrical device that is probably a lot harder than it looks. Do not get too settled in with the character and their actor because the cast appears to play various roles in the play.

It’s a 90 minutes play you do not want to miss. Come out and support the cast this weekend! Because you can’t travel the New Orleans, Mississippi, Arizona or the Pacific Ocean this weekend but you CAN go on a cross-country bike ride with BIKE AMERICA! BIKE AMERICA will be playing at the Theater at St. Celement’s (423 W. 16th St.) in Manhattan from now through October 20, 2013.

For more on Mike Lew, visit http://www.mikelew.com
For Tickets, http://ma-yitheatre.org/onstage/bike-america

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