SET on the titular Giant of Provence, a lonely mountain in the south of France with a barren, moonscape crown that has lit up La Grand Boucle 15 times since 1951, Ventoux is a two man play that grapples with turn-of-the-century road cycling’s most notorious and fraught rivalry - Marco Pantani versus Lance Armstrong .

The show, staged at Swindon Arts Centre, pivoted on an infamous confrontation in Tour De France history; stage 12 of the 87th edition, when Pantani, played by Matthew Seager and Armstrong, played by Alexander Gatehouse, went man-on-man to prove their dominance in the sport. However the real narrative muscle coursed through the play in sporadic allusions to cycling’s dark, corrupted heritage of drugs and deception.

Seager’s Pantani was sincere in his betrayal. The performance captured Elefantino’s mannerisms and expressions beautifully and it was heart wrenching to witness such a capable dissection of the tragic Italian icon’s descent into self-immolation on such a spartan and intimate stage - Pantani died alone in a hotel room in 2004 from cocaine poisoning).

Gatehouse did Armstrong’s supreme arrogance justice, beaming above his dishevelled counterpart, however I didn’t feel his mountainous ego and steely gaze was wholly captured over the course of the 60-minute show.

Ventoux’s real triumph was in its nuanced handling of the age-old doping problem in the professional peloton (there was a striking scene where our two duelists sat silently, downing cans of coke chased with bags of enriched blood. Blood doping was common practice during this era of professional bike racing. In a sorry epitaph to Il Pirata, Armstrong lamented that in a bunch wholly comprised of juiced-up riders, Pantani was still first over the line.

When the game is loaded, and the players are held accountable for abuses perpetuated from summit to base, our champions adopt converse coping mechanisms; denial, attack and indignance, versus shame, retreat and self-destruction. - by Joseph Theobald