nytheatre.com review by Charles Battersby
August 12, 2006
Tony Mendoza is a bicycle messenger and 58! A Comedy About Bike Messengessengering is a story based on his adventures "Messengessengering." Judging by the number of bikes locked up near the theatre, and the number of messenger bags slung over the shoulders of audience members, there must have been a lot of bike messengers in the audience on the night I saw the show. They certainly seemed to enjoyed it, and definitely got a few insider jokes that wouldn't appeal to the average person.
The show has a strong sense of theatre as therapy. Mendoza plays a guy named "Telly Mimosa" who bravely suffers all the indignities and injustices that Mendoza surely must have suffered in his years of messengering. Over the course of the show, Telly puts up with angry car drivers who see bikes as moving targets for road rage, and he endures the scorn of snobbish office workers, plus lobby security guards anxious for any excuse to push someone around. There's a heaping dose of revenge fantasy here, too as Telly gets his one-uppance on the office workers who've wronged him. Nonetheless, the play doesn't offer answers about these issues of social status, and contents itself with merely providing catharsis for those at the bottom of the urban food chain.
There's a romantic sub plot where Telly woos an office gal (Thea Lux) who was once run over by a messenger, but that story doesn't add enough meat to the play to hold it together, and doesn't have much of a resolution either. We also learn that Telly's biking is the means to support his career as a musician, which, ultimately, means that there are three or four songs shoehorned into the play.
There are quite a few funny gags in the show, including a chase scene with a cop on a Segway scooter, and a recurring foot fetish theme, plus a good deal of witty dialogue as Telly flirts with his love interest. There's also a message in here too, namely that bike messengers are treated like animals by society, so that's why they (sometimes) act like animals. I'm sure that this will resonate with bike messengers, but it isn't enough to hold the interest of people who aren't already in Telly's corner the moment the play starts.