Ran Away [by Matt Baker]
Accolades are a great way of publicising a show, and if you’re looking for a comedy, “written by 2015 Billy T Winner Hamish Parkinson” seems like a sure-fire bet. Parkinson has a genuinely unique comedic talent, which defies definition, but the trouble with Fun Run is that, as a play, it requires some sort of central theme or genre. At times it’s existential, others absurdist, others farcical, but its lack of consistency results in the script coming across like a mash of ideas that runs out of gas rather than anything considered as a whole.
Directed by Holly Chappell-Eason and Tom Eason, the show feels stuck somewhere between one of Parkinson’s more thematically-centralised performances and a devised play. Any potential at the start of the script is dropped, which is unfortunate, because there’s a surprising amount of profundity in the first few lines. The idea is solid within the logic of the world of the play, four strangers being hunted down while participating in a fun run under charitably misconstrued intentions, but its pursuit and execution is lacking.
With the extremity of the antagonism of Alice Canton’s character (which provides the majority of the humour) cut short, the rest of the cast are left metaphorically, and somewhat literally, directionless in terms of genuine conflict, and while there is a resolution to the events, it’s not in any way satisfying, because there’s no ensuing drama leading up to it. This is mainly because the characters don’t really change throughout the course of the play.
Ryan Richards has been terribly miscast – why not get an actual overweight actor who could be a dad of appropriate age? – and Laura Daniel is reduced to acting via frequency, after being heaped with ridiculous emotional content and no justifiable reasoning. Brynley Stent, along with Canton, seem to have the best understanding of the style of the show, but, even then, relying solely on that wears thin all too quickly.
I’m a huge fan of Parkinson’s previous works, and have enjoyed each of these performers in their own rights, but with an incomplete script under the direction of Chappell-Eason and Eason the sum of these parts simply does not find its rhythm. Asides from a few good gags, don’t expect Fun Run to leave you in stitches.
Fun Run is presented by Two Productions and plays at The Basement until September 19. For details see The Basement.