False Start

What happens when you train for something your whole life, only to fail at the crucial moment? This question is the stimulus behind False Start, from acclaimed French-German theatre-maker Ingrid von Wantoch, now based in Brussels, who weaves music and bodies into tableaux vivants with her cast of Jeanne Dailler, Pierre Gervais, Ninon Perez, and Laurent Staudt.

A fascinating kaleidoscope of actions

What started as a five-minute display for runners at a marathon in 2018 has since evolved into a 55-minute show. Using elite sport as the means of opening up the realm of performance pressure, four actor/dancers limber up and take their places on the start line of an athletics track. Their dreams are in place, the adrenaline is pumping and their eyes are focussed as they wait for a single gunshot that could set them on the sprint to glory. As the bullet is released the sound ignites their movement, but it’s immediately followed by a second shot signifying a false start. By a fraction of a second, one athlete’s hopes are dashed and the others must reconfigure for another attempt.

False Start is a very specific and highly focused work. The eerie opening soundscape devised by Marc Appart creates a sense of foreboding, enhanced by Jan Maertens’ lighting design. Satu Peltoniemi’s costumes with the floor markings give a clear indication of the event, its location and who the characters are. For a modern dance piece it is unusually non-abstract. Instead, the choreography, in collaboration with Nadine Ganase, is explicit and filled with clarity as it explores the minutiae of the athlete’s movements, impressing them upon us in repeated motifs and floor patterns as variations up a theme. The effect is to create a fascinating kaleidoscope of actions, As the images change so does the music and the tension ebbs and flows, at times interspersed with comic poignancy.

Although rooted in the heartache and disappointment of a track event False Start is also a metaphor for life and as such takes on a depth beyond its surface portrayal.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Richard Beck

Coronet Theatre Ltd

L'Amore Del Cuore (Heart's Desire)

Theatre Peckham

Barrier To Entry

Restaurace Malostranská Beseda

The Chemistry of Love

Muzeum alchymistů a mágů staré Prahy

Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act

A Studio Rubín

At Home with Will Shakespeare

Divadlo Inspirace

The Untold Fable of Fritz


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

False Start: a theatrical, musical and physical project. Four performers put themselves in the shoes of sprinters, depicting their relentless preparation for the race. False Start takes its inspiration from sport (the sprint) to question our society's obsession with speed, success and the cult of the body and performance. The project explores our relationship with failure as part of a quest for glory, dreams of flight and surpassing ourselves.

Most Popular See More

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets