In anticipation of seeing RUN, the critically acclaimed one-hander by writer Stephen Laughton, I found myself looking back at some of the great solo theatre that has influenced and inspired over the years. From autobiographical monologues to historical monodramas to multi-character plays and musical revues, solo theatre is as diverse as theatre itself.
It’s a challenging and impressive task for any actor to hold the attention of an audience and perform an hour-long monologue of such a high standard as RUN. Tom Ross-Williams achieves this with a complex mix of intensity, subtlety and overt self-awareness that inhabits the skin of the 17-year-old North London gay Jewish teenager he energetically plays.
RUN is a stripped back piece of theatre, punctuated with swift changes in music tempo and retrievals of a heavy rucksack to navigate the audience through several scene changes. As Yonni, Ross-Williams commands Laughton’s rich dialogue as he switches from portraying the fidgety, funny, excitable teen to conveying the passionate and frustrated longing that lies within all of us, whatever age.
Directed by Lucy Wray, RUN recounts an unforgettable summer of rebellion, self-discovery, shabbat and sex. We experience the exuberance and self-consciousness (from a distinctively youthful outlook on the word) as Yonni goes to ‘Jew camp’ and begins his lustful exchange with Adam, the lover he daydreams of having a relationship with. Punchy and relatable lines from Laughton such as, “We spit out at the same time,” (while cleaning their teeth together at camp), reminds us of moments we’ve all shared.
From glimpses into Yonni’s perspective on the breakdown of his dysfunctional family to the raw emotions of falling in love for the first time, Ross-Williams uses his body to dramatic effect as he contorts and throws himself around the almost-empty set, as we watch his engaging transition from boy to man.
RUN is at The Bunker, London Bridge until 1st April.
Words by Patrick McAleenan