Free Run’s London press performance in May, when it was the headline act for E4 Udderbelly’s South Bank season, was cancelled after one of the performers was seriously injured. Now finally facing the critics, the show has brought the South Bank to Edinburgh’s Bristo Square, its opening sequence unveiling, in clever graffiti brush strokes, a video wall of the hustle and bustle of its former home alongside the Thames.
Especially commissioned for the Udderbelly, this is billed as the first-ever show of its kind about the phenomenal action sport of free running. It’s a crowd-pleasing spectacle, with plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s for the outrageously fit men (and one woman) who seem to defy gravity in their ability to throw themselves around an auditorium that’s been turned into one big jungle gym for their fun.
As an hour’s entertainment, it does need tightening up. There are long stretches in the middle that are overdependent on slow-mo video montages, and a Playstation type chase, with intermittent cage-fighting choreography, is misjudged. The lighting – often too dim and strobed – works against the action too.
The very best moments are when the stage lights are up, and we can see the full flow and muscle-ripping strength of these magnificent urban acrobats, all of whom clearly love what they’re doing and feed off the audience to drive them to greater heights.