Run

With the current societal hatred for bankers and their sky high bonuses, we may put aside any thought for the young individuals who throw away any chance for a personal life, with interpersonal support and relationships, in order to live and breath the industry - fighting each other and their own sense of self in order to be 'compensated' by the money they can earn in lieu of anything we would call a life. The well-known demands, pace and stress of working in the City don't do anything to stop the competitiveness that there is to work there, even as an unpaid Intern - and the freneticism of this fight for a professional over personal role in life is explored in Engineer Theatre Collective's production of Run, with a style that is unusually powerful and visually enthralling.

Unusually powerful and visually enthralling

Developed from conversations with people who work / intern in the financial sector - and recalling memories from media stories of suicides by overworked young people who seemingly saw no other way out of the cycle - the story is recognisably based on truth. Four of the successful 100 or so Interns who have been through a rigorous interview process (by arguably arrogant interviewers who pull in nepotism and 'oh-so-clever' questions around 'tail risk' and job commitment) are drawn together as they embark on the 10 week internship as strangers.

They create, or feel forced into, some proxy of friendship. But from the outset, whilst pertaining to watch each other's backs, they immediately dismiss the idea of getting too personal with the information they share; no matter that some share a 'home' (or rather a place to shower instead of sleep) and some share an attraction. There is a need in all of us for human interaction, but the constant pull of work and never far from the surface competitiveness of the situation here means that any true humanity is pushed aside in order to avoid appearing weak and to 'win the prize'.

The scenes that show the events taking place are realistically scripted, often funny and often tense vignettes, but are not the key to this piece. They play out the story of the four as they work hard on mainly menial tasks, attempt to play hard, turn to drugs so as not to fall behind, and make small mistakes that feel magnified into life-ending tragedies. The pacing in the many, usually short scenes is generally very slow and underplayed finely by all four of the cast - allowing the increase in stress, and the impact that has, to be subtly evoked by tiny touches. There are moments that last less than a few seconds which imply so much: an undercurrent of unstated jealousy when one beats a deadline; the real panic when one thinks they have lost their security pass; the lack of interest shown when one is asked why they are working in the dark at 5.30am; the violence when one beats another in the lift (though seemingly only in her imagination). All the performers are strong in their subtlety - though so much subtlety does drain the energy of the piece - with Joseph Sentance as Tim particularly standing out with a marvellously naturalistic performance of a very confused character that is immensely watchable in the way he draws us in.

But where this piece comes alive is with the juxtaposition to the 'quietness' of the scripted performances with the movement style, visuality and music that sometimes links the scenes and sometimes becomes them. The music in particular acts more like a film score than incidental theatricality - this is not about filling time in the background, it's about creating dynamic, building pace and evoking emotion. Whilst somewhat annoying at first with the overuse of snare drums and what seems to be a glockenspiel - the music soon becomes more important than the dialogue to increase their (and our) levels of anxiety. The 'square mile' set is marched around by the cast when they change props, clearly in sight, lit with shadow and brightness to represent their inner demons and writhe around when they are trying to keep a pace with the world around them.

It's visually and audibly striking and the company's Lecoq influences are clear. But whilst the stillness of the scenes work well in contrast to this, they do pull down the energy so that it makes it difficult for the audience to maintain our own. However, this is a compelling style of theatre that is worth seeing - my hope is that their next piece uses more of the physicality and musicality to develop what is clearly the company's skilled point of difference, and what most creates and titillates the audience's interest.

Reviews by Simon Ximenez

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

★★
Lyttelton Theatre

Manor

Duke of Yorks Theatre

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

★★★★★
National Theatre

The Normal Heart

★★★
Arts Theatre

Oleanna

★★
Olivier Theatre

Under Milk Wood

★★★★

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

RUN is an exhilarating story of four investment bank interns chasing a career in the City...

Inspired by the true story of Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old intern who died at his London flat after reportedly working 72 hours straight, RUN exposes the glamour and grind of the Square Mile.

Using striking physicality, sound and contemporary design, and developed in conversation with the freshest financial minds, award-winning theatre company Engineer Theatre Collective give an authentic voice to our brightest young bankers. They confront the violence, lust and death that underpin our relationship with money and offer a gripping exploration of the universal urge to want more.

Most Popular See More

The Mousetrap

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets