Hip Shot: Tour de Farce
Saturday, July 26, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 27 4:00 p.m.
They say: Never one to let boredom reign, Peter sets a new high water mark of stunts by participating in this year's Tour de France from the comfort of his own one-bedroom share in the LES, to his roommate Ryan’s dismay.
Joseph's take: 2014 was a landmark year for American interest in the World Cup, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that the Tour de France was up and rolling, too. Despite USA’s (asterisk-pocked) past successes, there are no DC bars showing the daily runs. There’s no workplace memos begging colleagues to stop streaming the Tour de France. With Lance Armstrong disgraced, cycling has returned to its natural state in the American cultural consciousness: more popular than cricket, less popular than Olympic curling.
In Tour de Farce, Peter (Willem Krumich) remains one of the sport’s few fans, committed to not only watching the race, but competing in it, much to the reasonable discomfort of his roommate, Ryan (Sha Golanski). In the dead of night, Peter sets up his stationary bike next to the TV in Ryan’s bedroom so he can pedal along to every leg of the race. And they’re off.
Krumich plays Peter with a focused intensity that verges on high-functioning autism. He’s consummately unapologetic about this and every past slight, but his drive to race will eventually invoke some sympathy from both his roommate and the audience.
Ryan is the grounded straight-man to Peter's high-concept schemes, and Golanski plays exasperated well. When the time comes for his own plotting to be revealed, he sells the script's somewhat jarring, but emotional, twists, in its last 20 minutes.
But the play is at its best when Ryan embraces Peter's participation in the race and helps him overcome the obstacles to participation (just what do rider's do when they have to go No. 2?). Unfortunately, the first half of the play uses this incident to rehash too much of Peter and Ryan's past relationship; this race being just the latest indignity Ryan has endured in their decade of shared housing. As the tales of Peter's borderline behavior pile up, it's not clear why Ryan stuck it out so long. (Another mystery unsolved: how this underemployed pair affords an apartment on the Lower East Side and a cable package that airs the entirety of the Tour de France.)
On the whole, Tour de Farce feels a little unfinished. Peter intones at the beginning of the race, “The clock always wins.” The ending of the play feels rushed, arriving so suddently I was unsure for a moment that it was really over, and one gets the sense that the clock ran out on playwright and director Kevyn Settle as the festival deadline approached. There’s some interesting ideas in the mix here, including a comparison of cycling drug use and artistic plagiarism (who’s responsible for the win?), but they’re not given sufficient exploration.
Maybe with a little bit more training, it could go all the way.
See it if: You long for simpler days when no one paid attention to cycling, but the USA still won, goddammit.
Skip it if: You prefer watching YouTube videos of Tim Howard saves.