The Village Bike, Crucible Studio

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IF you are pondering parenthood or already in a gestation situation you might want to avoid this. Then again, maybe not.

For the title to Penelope Skinner’s hilarious but morally quizzical play is as much concerned with a real two-wheeled contraption as it is a phrase applied to a certain type of lady.

The rider and the ridden in this particular scenario is Becky - played with zest and at times bravely by Amy Cudden - a recently rurally-relocated wife with a newfound lust, the catalyst for which is early pregnancy.

Roll on a potentially destructive cocktail comprising hormonal horniness, dull husband John’s apparent loss of sexual appetite in favour of obsessing over said embryo, indulged fantasies during a summer heatwave and the arrival of a liberal-minded neighbour, David Bark-Jones’s perfectly opportunist and emotionally-rationed Oliver.

On paper John (Christopher Harper) does everything right – reading up on sprogs, building mobiles, befriending local manic mum Jenny (a wonderful shift from Caroline Harker). But when he’s more interested in making lasagne than love to his wife or Persil over porn, it gives Becky’s libido license to roam. Foot rubs won’t cut it when she’d rather dress as a schoolgirl.

Skinner’s lively script matches the shady morality of subject with much humour; an early plumber scene is peppered with Carry On-esque double-entendre.

But the fact that both newly acquired bike and Becky have “hardly been ridden” is little excuse for a married mum-to-be to seek hardcore correction, of course, even if the formulaic way in which John gives her rope to nearly hang their relationship has us almost willing Becky on.

John’s unwitting humiliation is complete when he declares in the glare of his wife’s advance that he’s not “just a piece of meat” before later telling her: “Care is all I ever do”.

Bike is at times uncomfortable viewing, cleverly offset with sharp laughs. But the laughter cannot diminish raw questions with which one leaves the theatre.

Skinner’s piece is striking, daring, bright and perhaps a warning in what should be a beautiful time for future parents.

Concludes October 6.

David Dunn