THE LONLINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER: Alan Silitoe, adapt Roy Williams
Pilot Theatre on Tour
Runs: 1h 30m, no interval
Tours till 24 November
Review: Birmingham Rep, 02 10 12, Alexander Ray
Pedestrian adaptation saved by the long-distance runner
LONG DISTANCE RUNNER is, on the face of it, a straightforward tale. However, the dilemma faced by the runner and young offender, Colin, is anything but straightforward. Essentially, he asks himself ‘If I win the race an I playing by the rules of the Establishment? Must I sacrifice what I want (I want to win) in order not to play their game?’
Colin’s questioning of himself and his ultimate decision make this, still, a gripping tale. We care deeply about him.
Elliot Barnes-Worrell conveys this level of complexity with ease, he forces us to care about him even though he asks us for nothing. His is an unfussy, unsentimentalised, uncompromising performance. In this he is aided by Dominic Gately’s Home Office worker; he attempts to help Colin and receive short shrift from him. Their duologue towards the end of the play is gripping and beautifully adapted from Silitoe’s novel.
Where the production fails though is in Roy William’s adaptation over all. The modernisation (incorporating clips of Cameron’s ‘riot’ speeches) is most effective. But the adaptation itself feels old-fashioned. Colin’s essential monologues are little more than illustrated by interposed scenes, in which the other characters (Mum, Dad, friend et al) appear little deeper than cyphers.
There is no thrill nor excitement nor engagement with the story as a piece of theatre – essential ingredients if we want young people to come back for more.
Barnes-Worrell saves the day, however.
Elliot Barnes-Worrell: Colin Smith
Doreene Blackstock: Mum
Curtis Cole:uke / PC
Cominic Gately: Stevnes
Savannah Gordon-Liburd: Kenisha
Luke James: Gunthorpe / Guard
Jack McMullen: Jse
Richard Pepple: Dad / Trevor
Alix Ross: Sandra / Guard
Sean Sagar: Asher / PC
Director: Marcus Romer
Designer / Co-Video Desigher: Lydia Denno
Lighting Designer Co-Video Designer: Mark Beasley
Soundscape Composer: Sandy Nuttgens
Staff Director: Tom Bellerby
Fight Choreographer: Liam Evans-Ford