‘Painfully relatable’: IT’S NOT A SPRINT – Vault Festival

In Festivals, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

The Vaults, London – until 3 March 2019
Guest reviewer: Christina Bulford

Ever felt like you were stumbling through life rather than running it? Living in London can feel like a sprint sometimes, barging up and down escalators and chasing pay cheques whilst trying to hold family and friends, a career and a love life together in your sweaty palms. As if that wasn’t enough, you meet stumbling blocks along the way, like: what day do I need to put the bins out? How many weeks is it acceptable not to wash my sheets? Will I ever be grown-up enough to be in bed by ten, or to do a weekly shop?

Maddie is marking “the big three-zero” by running a marathon, tied to a glitter-filled golden balloon. It is filled with the promise of celebration at the finish line, but as she runs reluctantly towards it and her waiting boyfriend, she doesn’t know if she’ll make it. Or even if she wants to. The finish line is just the beginning of a future she’s not sure she’s ready to meet. But boy, does she want to sling that medal round her neck and beat that pantomime horse.

If you’re a 20- or 30-something this might be the most painfully relatable show you see all festival – or indeed all year – or perhaps ever. Maddie’s ambition to run a marathon is matched admirably by solo writer/performer Grace Chapman’s ambition to run almost continually throughout the 50-minute show, expertly timed to a soundtrack of her own thoughts. Maddie converses with her own consciousness like a frenemy that knows her all too well, her self-doubt rising and ebbing as the sweat patches on her top expand.

Chapman cuts a sole figure on an empty stage, a minimalism that chimes with Maddie’s sense of being all alone in a crowded race. The patter of surrounding feet blends seamlessly with her own, it is unobtrusive sound design (from Chris Bartholomew) at its finest.

Chapman may be red in the face and breathless by the end of the performance, but this is a piece less about physical exertion and more about mental preparation. We must remember to breathe out, listen to and pace ourselves and know when to take a rest. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.

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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

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