Glory Ride ★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Until July 29, 2023

Gino Bartali was a Tour de France winning cyclist and a national celebrity in Italy. This is the chronicle of his heroic, but little known, participation in a scheme to rescue threatened Jewish children during the Fascist regime. It is inspiring stuff and could be the basis of a terrific musical. Glory Ride certainly has some good material to work with, but the focus of the production is unclear. There is the psychological story involving the death of Bartali's brother and his relationship with his father; the professional cyclist story with its many triumphs; the political story packed with too many incidents; the story of the relationship with his friend who becomes a fascist; and finally the obligatory love story. It is unclear what is intended as the main narrative of the piece, and the fact that the show concludes rather flatly with an expository summing up reflects the attempt to deal with too much material. For us, the most interesting theme was the way that different characters dealt with the war and the contrast between Bartali's response to this crisis and that of his friend, Mario. Both suffer childhood trauma but the latter's patriotism and need to belong take the form of becoming a fascist, while Bartali emerges as a star athlete and part of the Resistance. Like much of the music, the contrast between the two companions echoes Les Misérables. However in this case, unlike with the Jean Valjean and Javert conflict, the differing accommodations are not sufficiently explored. Some of the dialogue and lyrics are rather clunky and "chiaroscuro" isn't a very felicitous rhyme with "sure of." Nevertheless, there are some impressive performances. Josh St. Clair as Bartali and Fed Zanni as Mario are both strong, and Amy Di Bartolomeo was a captivating Adriana. Daniel Robinson does the most he can with the almost caricature of a character, the accountant Nico. Full marks for P.J. McEvoy's set design which was clever and beautifully versatile. While the story of Bartali's involvement in the Italian resistance is an uplifting one, in its present version, Glory Ride tries to cram in too much and doesn't fully capture the power of Bartali's heroic life journey.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Marc Brenner.

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:

Most Popular

St. Martin in-the-fields: Lunchtime Concerts ★★★★ FREE

Knocking on the Wall ★★★★ Finborough Theatre | Oct 31 - Nov 25, 2023

Mates in Chelsea ★★★ Royal Court Theatre | Nov 3 - Dec 16, 2023

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick ★★★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Nov 23, 2023 - Jan 13, 2024

The Mongol Khan ★★★★ London Coliseum | Nov 17 - Dec 2, 2023

Discover Liotard & The Lavergne Family Breakfast ★★★★★ The National Gallery | Until March 3, 2024 (Free Entry)

£1 Thursdays ★★★ Finborough Theatre | Nov 28 - Dec 22, 2023

Peter Pan Goes Wrong ★★★★ Lyric Theatre | Nov 23, 2023 - Jan 14, 2024

Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen ★★★★★ Bush Theatre | Until December 23, 2023

To Have and To Hold ★★★★ Hampstead Theatre | Until November 25, 2023

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings