In the dizzying flux between grief, careers, and figuring out your love life, you’ll find Spin Classes. Or at least that’s what Jamie-Lee Money is aiming at with Spin Cycles, which takes a hands-on look at using exercise to get over complexities and the cult-like world that surrounds the gym and the mysterious instructors. Handling a lot of topics in a short space of time, Jamie-Lee comes across an interesting character to invest an hour of your time in. With razor sharp wit and refined storytelling finesse we immerse ourselves in the Bridget Jones-esque world that eventually reveals a more pertinent and emotive sense of mourning and contemplation. The story, however, spreads itself a little too thin thematically to leave you with something deeper to walk away with.
It’s a striking scene to enter into a bunker underneath the Pleasance Courtyard – Jamie-Lee sits already hard at work cycling away against a neon-lit background. Within moments we are thrown into a high energy spin class, which Jamie-Lee then unwinds to an earlier plot point about her job as a lifestyle reviewer for a London magazine. While I can understand the desire for the flashy opening on the bike, it then felt a little jarring for her to re-introduce the concept of spin classes shortly after. We get to meet her charismatic spin instructor, the intern at her office she is sleeping with, and her agonising boss with seemingly endless purview. While the place of each of the characters in the story is clearly explained, Jamie-Lee’s unnamed central character only makes reference to their personalities rather than embodying them fully.
Travelling through themes and locations at breakneck speed, Jamie-Lee takes us through various diagnoses, the passing of a friend, her relationship with her mother, and sweating it all off at her regular spin classes that seem to be becoming all the more cult-like, and she’s sucked in. The central character is a real lynchpin of this piece, and its great strength lies in how coherently we are able to jump across a wide-ranging group of plot lines with panache and distinct storytelling style. In a swirling chaotic world she becomes overwhelmed but we are with her the entire way. Her sympathetic agony at the madness of her converging social and professional lives allows the audience in, and her snappy wit and laissez-faire approach to early 30s debauchery keeps you along the whole way.
However I can’t help feeling that we do just keep jumping from one thing to the next, and then all the way back again, without much focus. While its an admirable aim to try and display the full extent of a character’s life over an hour’s run time, it simply feels too short and that too much has been stuffed into one show. It might be more tangible and leaving a more credulous impact on the audience if the show had less story breadth and more thematic focus. For example, the character’s relationship to grief spans multiple people in her life but we never really get to know much about either of those who pass away, and the musings on mourning tend to blur into each other a little too much.
The piece has a skewering-ly funny approach to brands and corporate life, though I worry the jokes referencing certain brands might go a little amiss for some of the audience as they are quite specific. Some brands that were referenced I had never heard of, and their relationship to the world of gym life or corporate life was never properly explained, so I wasn’t really sure what was happening until I went out to Google them after. Equally, the piece is incredibly London-centric, which I found a little off-putting. While it might work to reference different neighbourhoods in London to a London audience, I didn’t really get the need to continually specify why we were in Farringdon, or East London, or the Barbican. The locations didn’t really mean much to me as an Edinburgh audience and weren’t explained in enough detail for me to make the geo-cultural connections.
Punchy, dynamic, and dramatically fluid – strap in for a ride into grief and getting through it all in Spin Cycles.
Recommended Drink: It’s Friday, you’re 30, neck a Jagerbomb and strap in.
Catch Spin Cycles until August 28th at Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Two at 12:20. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.