Review - RIDE - Charing Cross Theatre, London

RIDE - Charing Cross Theatre, London

As many people know, I love a new musical (*spoiler alert – I love most musicals), despite the fact that many of them need a little more tweaking so are often still ‘works in progress’.  This one has landed fully fledged! 

Of course, it has been tried and tested extensively prior to its off West End launch at the Charing Cross Theatre this week.  It started life as a one-woman show and had its debut at London’s Vault Festival in March 2020.

Today, it’s a one act, two-handed tale of mother of three, Annie Londonderry (aka Cohen Kopchovsky) who in 1894, following the death of her younger brother and ward, responded to a wager between two businessmen and set off on a 42lb bicycle to circumnavigate the world in 15 months.  She adopted the surname ‘Londonderry’ as part of a sponsorship deal with the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company and was an “unabashed self promoter”.

We meet Annie (Liv Andrusier) as she poses for the press and then addresses them in an ‘off the cuff’ pitch to write a regular column in the New York World following her return.  She is brought refreshments by an unsuspecting young intern, Martha Smith (Yuki Sutton) and coerces her to help to bring her adventures to life.  What a ride, what a show!! 

The writers, Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams have captured the public persona of Annie (based on the book by her great-grand nephew Peter Zheutlin) as well as a darker underside which is largely imagined as there is little known about her.  These two sides of Annie are portrayed excellently by Andrusier and punctuated with upbeat tuneful songs excellently executed by the small band of three.  My companion was particularly taken with MD, conductor and keyboard player, Sam Young who was unfortunately just out of my sight.

I was impressed by Yuki Sutton in Tokyo Rose (Southwark Playhouse) last year and in Ride she exercises her not insubstantial acting credentials as she begins her time as Martha and becomes varyingly businessmen, a romantic interest and others.  I have no doubt that we will be seeing both these young actresses a great deal more in the future. 

The set was simple and creative as pieces were removed to bring us trains, washing lines and (unsurprisingly) bicycles.  Qudos to the ‘dark side’ (stage management and crew) for their excellent timing.

It was 90 minutes of pure pleasure and I urge you to meet Annie before she rides out of town.  It’s certainly left me with wanting to know more about this extraordinary woman…

This production was reviewed on the 2nd September 2022.  RIDE runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 17th September 2022.  Tickets available here:

***** stars

Emily Culverhouse

Catch Emily every Saturday at 4pm for 'Anything Can Happen' here at Box Office Radio

Photo Credit : Danny Kaan