Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Curtis Cole, Sean Sagar
New Wolsey Theatre
16 October 2012 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews In the last couple of years, two things have shaken the nation: the riots in London and the hosting of the 2012 Olympics. This staging of the classic Alan Sillitoe short story and subsequent film relocates the setting from 1950s Nottingham to modern day London and draws on these recent events to involve the audience.
Much of the credit for this immersive theatrical experience should be given to the production and stage management crew who create a subtly powerful staging. Rather than distract or hide behind the cast's performance, various elements of stagecraft become like another hidden member of the cast lifting this performance. Most of the play is delivered in monologue by
Elliot Barnes-Worrell who plays the long-distance runner Colin Smith while running on a specially constructed eight-metre treadmill that is embedded in the floor of the stage.
While Smith delivers his monologue, he recollects his past and the translucent cloth background has either projections of scenery or is made translucent white so other members of the cast deliver their dialogue from behind this cloth background. This staging combined with the interval-less 80 minute performance draws the audience into the tempo of a long-distance run.
Barnes-Worrell makes that monologue powerful and clear, despite spending most of the performance on the on-stage treadmill and comes across as a dramatic hybrid of
John Gielgud and Mo Farah. (I learned later that Barnes-Worrell is a runner in his private life and is a member of an inner-city running club that reaches out to “real-life” Colin Smiths); thus the passion he shows for running is evident in his performance.
His dialogue, though spiced with inner-city Jamaican-style patois, is not incomprehensible but beautiful and elegant. However, there are times where the use of inner-city colloquialisms seems inappropriate, as when Colin's arresting officers speak exclusively in patois.All the cast deliver clear, strong and realistic performances – which is creditable, given that for some this is their stage début. However, certain roles particularly shone out.
Doreene Blackstock's performance iss particularly poignant as she struggles through widowhood and then coping with a son who was jobless and then criminal. Savannah Gordon-Liburd comes across as touching, earnest and innocent in her performance and Dominic Gately skilfully delivers his didactic and patronising dialogue.
For me, this is a medal-winning level performance. It shows the quality and timelessness of Sillitoe's writing in that few changes are made to the story but at the same time,
Roy Williams' adaptation is precise and contemporary enough to hit modern audiences. This, along with a harmonious partnership of cast and staging, leads to a very enjoyable night.
- by Wilf Arasaratnam Related Content
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