Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle is a strange, amusing one man show that baffles as much as it delights. If we are to believe Russel McGilton’s allegedly true story, his cycling journey was undertaken simply to create the alliteration necessary for this show.
Separating fact from fiction is an impossible mission, as McGilton’s raving account is filled with caricature and an overwhelming sense of drama. The story pours forth from his mouth and other orifices as he enacts (throwing himself about the stage) the various bodily malfunctions that he suffered throughout his troubled trip. In fact, it is difficult to tell whether McGilton left his hospital bed at all, as the entire drama gives the impression of a feverish nightmare brought on by malaria.
Through the madness come lucid moments of wit and some very creative drama. McGilton embodies all of the characters in his tale, including a book on fire, which he brilliantly mimes by having his feet represent foot notes and his spine the spine of the book. Equally amusing are the recurring characters who help explore his inner journey, such as a sergeant major type, his dead father, a recent girlfriend and a seasoned female traveler with a very dubious accent.
For those expecting a quiet afternoon hearing about a man’s travels would probably be best to stay well clear of this act. This is a loud, frantic hour that couldn’t be any more in-your-face. But if you adventure into the venue, a rude and sometimes nude McGilton will have you laughing as the Westerners’ illusions about the mystical East are shattered in spectacular style, saddle up.