You know what they say about Fred Astaire; bet Elliot Barnes-Worrell could do all that too since he has no problem at all running and speaking out, and largely crystal clear diction. Not always the case however for this 1959 tale of Colin Smith, the fatherless young offender, literally racing for his life as he broods over his past and agonises about the future.
Brought bang up to date, some of the dialogue is hard to follow but worse than that is the realisation how little things have changed. Except that riots were usually the result of frustration and despair, yet nowadays seem to be based more on greed.
Cue Mrs Smith (Doreene Blackstock), addicted to retail therapy and the rapid replacement of her husband with boyfriend Trevor, both, remarkably, played by Richard Pepple. More of an influence on Colin is his canny girlfriend Kenisha (Savannah Gordon-LIburd); even more so, layabout best friend Jase (TV veteran and rising theatre ingénue Jack McMullen).
But Colin also has to contend with being hounded by Luke, nasty and dim (Curtis Cole) and Sean Sagar as sidekick Asher; perhaps surprisingly bullying is deprived of its leading role and not shown to be the principal reason driving him on. Worse still, well-meaning but misguided mentor, Stevens, his complexities well portrayed by Dominc Gately.
The background to the running track varies from urban landscape to countryside to domestic interior, all done with mirrors or rather, video, where the flashbacks take place, a clever idea though occasionally baffling.
Nonetheless, you also know you are in good company when you learn from the Aftershow talk that Alan Sillitoe’s widow and son were thrilled with a production which veers from bleak to humorous whilst crackling with passion throughout.