By Hamish Parkinson
Basement Theatre, until 19 September
Slotted in before the main show of the evening and with very little set – one seagull dangling from the ceiling – this has the air of a fringe festival show. Cheery children’s glockenspiel music plays as we come in drinking our complimentary Coaqua drinks (coconut water tastes exactly as you would expect, and is quite nice if you like coconut). A young twenty-something crowd provide more proof, if needed, that the Basement is the artistic hub for a new generation of theatre-makers and audiences. Then an armed arm stretches onto the stage and the seagull is shot.
The premise of the show is this: four people go on a fun run – supporting various causes with varying levels of enthusiasm – and the run turns out not to be any fun at all. The ridiculous costumes look bloody uncomfortable, but that’s not it. Rather, it is as if writer Hamish Parkinson had claimed that he would rather be stabbed in the stomach with a rusty baton than go on a fun run. And he then let his imagination flow from there.
It is undeniably a pleasure to watch four performers run for 45 minutes, mainly on the spot, but also backwards and forwards and in and out. It looks very silly and brings lots of energy to the performances, quite literally. Directors Holly Chappel-Eason and Tom Eason do well, bringing a fair amount of variety to the staging and the pace. The four actors between them explore all the sorts of people you may expect (dread) to meet on a run; the evangelical Christian in a Rubix Cube; a madly grinning Brynley Stent, who calls everyone friend; the irritated negative Bumble Bee – the excellent Alice Canton; a Silly Sausage, played somewhat manically by Laura Daniel, who prefers animals, particularly birds, to people; and a slightly overweight Batman (a funny Ryan Richards), an abandoned father who misses his wife and child desperately but remains unrelentingly upbeat. And stupid.
All the performers are good, but the voice of Parkinson is stronger than any of them. This could easily be a one-man show with him playing all the parts, and I wonder if it may be better that way. There are some very funny lines, and you have a nice time, but as a play, like the runners themselves, it provides visual appeal but doesn’t really go anywhere.