RUN by Engineer Theatre - Review

Devised theatre creates such a fantastic “sense of ensemble” between company members and it is so exciting to watch. So when I found out that I was going to see the critically acclaimed “Run,” Engineer Theatre Collective’s second devised piece, I couldn’t wait to see whether it was going to live up to expectation. This company and the directors, Jesse Fox and Simon Lyshon, managed to not only engage us with their wonderful script, but also with their strong, detailed characters and relationship toward each other in a tense working environment.

This play was based on the story of a 21 year old banking intern who died in 2013 by working an alleged 72 hours straight. We start with a minimalist set, in the round audience seating and a smartly dressed, Caroline (Charlotte Watson). She is a Warwick University graduate with a profound hunger for a life in finance, who is interviewing for a similar banking internship to the real-life story. This first of many scenes immediately gives us a sense of what this play is all about: the dog-eat-dog struggles of graduates facing a career in the big, scary world.

During the scenes that follow, we figure out that our protagonist was successful and we meet her fellow interns: the dangerous, dark horse Ana (Gabriella Margulies), the arrogant, alpha-male Lawrence (Al Jarrett) and the bumbling, awkward Tim (Joseph Sentance). The actors not only brought us into the challenging world of these characters but gave us an insight into their minds. Such small, idiosyncratic details are what truly makes a wonderful piece of theatre and I was enthralled to watch as some of them lost grip of themselves and bent to the pressures of wanting to succeed.

Let’s face it, the most boring parts of any play (the parts where you are allowed to switch off) are the transitions between scenes. There is nothing interesting about watching stage hands in black run with bent knees to move a chair 2 inches and we have to pretend like we never saw them. However, this company managed to find a way to make the transitional moments so mesmerising, simply with movement. The four of them were slick, seamless and effortless and truly created this “sense of ensemble” that I was talking about. By incorporating Lecoq-inspired physicality, it made watching someone carry a table extremely engaging.

One of the questions I was thinking this piece of theatre would raise for me was “How are powerful, professional women going to be viewed by the men who are doing the same job?” I was very impressed to see that sexism in the workplace was never spoken about and did not become the focus of the play, but I got a sense that it was bubbling underneath the entire time. Jarrett’s angry, frenetic monologue about how Margulies’ character was “tough, strong and scary” really captured the idea that none of the men saw her as a threat until it became clear that she was the best of all of them. A thing that we often see with a dominant female character and in day-to-day life.

While sexism isn’t commented upon, it is the sense of rivalry and shifts in status that is present throughout every scene of this play. From discussing their universities at the start: “Warwick. Cambridge. Oxford. Ah.” to an imagined fight between the two ladies in the elevator. It’s the sense that everyone is a threat and everyone must strive to be the best which I’m sure hits home with a lot of audience members, no matter what profession you are in.

Overall, the simplicity of stagecraft and the dynamic physical performances really made the script sing, along with the depth and clarity of characters. I would recommend running down to the New Diorama to catch this before it reaches the finish line.

“Run” will be performed until 9th April.

(c) 2016 Molly Miller

DATE SEEN
23/3/16
VENUE
New Diorama
RUN DATES
15/3/16 - 9/4/16
START TIME
19.30
DURATION
1 hour 20 minutes
CAST NAMES
Gabriella Margulies - Ana
Charlotte Watson - Caroline
Al Jarrett - Lawrence
Joseph Sentance - Tim

CREW NAMES
Playwright - Devised by all
Director - Jesse Fox / Simon Lyshon
Designer - Sarah Beaton
Lighting Designer - Oscar Wyatt
Sound Designer - Dominic Kennedy
Show operator / Grace Jarvis
Producer - Emily Thommes
Associate Director - George Evans

COMPANY
Engineer Theatre
www.engineertheatre.com
http://newdiorama.com/whats-on/run

Author's review: 
4