RUN GIRL RUN
Grit Theatre @ Tuxedo Cat – Raj House – Room 5
8:30pm, Tue 11 Mar 2014
I think back to January 2014: I’m (belatedly) scanning the Fringe Guide, and I come across the entry for RUN GIRL RUN. I read “performed entirely on treadmills” at the beginning of the third line. I circle the show without a second thought.
Because the little voice inside my head said “Dude” – the voice remembers me as the blonde surfie I never was – “you have to respect performance art”… and there was no way that a show that took place entirely on treadmills could be anything other than performance art. So, with a thirsty and curious mind relishing the unknown into which it was walking, we set up camp in the front row.
Which was a dumb idea, since the three treadmills onstage put the performers up at an uncomfortable viewing height.
Anyway – two women and one man, dressed in unremarkable gym gear, take a moment to quite deliberately apply socks and boots to their outfits before alighting the treadmills; with the pace set to a slow walk, they start talking as friends. How are you going? What’d you get up to last night?
At intervals, the trio reach forward in unison and bump the pace up a little; conversations shift gear with the pace… but, while still at walking pace, they’re clearly all still friends. There’s moments where the group all reach into the console of the treadmill, digging up a beer can; pop it, neck it, throw the can away (though there were some real struggles with the third can). There’s minor costume additions: singlets and shorts that would make any bricklayer proud are applied, as is makeup – leading to some splendid lipstick scars on all three performers.
And never, ever, do they stop walking… or, later, running.
While the tempo is slow, RUN GIRL RUN feels like a glimpse at the lives of young adults today: the dialogue is occasionally funny, but often inane and annoying. But as the pace picks up – as the constant thudding of feet on the treadmills takes on an almost hypnotic rhythm, as the sweat starts freely flowing from the performers – the dialogue becomes more clipped: snatches of text, barks of encouragement, growls of derision. There’s a tangible sense of tension as the show starts stumbling upon itself and you feel like the performers are struggling to keep up the pace and christ I didn’t realise they were wearing high heels now and oooh shit one just stumbled and surely this is getting a bit dangerous and…
…then it just sorta ends.
And I’m not really sure what to think about all that.
I’m not really sure what RUN GIRL RUN was all about. It didn’t really seem to be making any broad statements about gender differences, or pointing any accusatory fingers at anyone… but it most certainly was uncomfortable in parts. And there’s no denying the impact of those tense closing minutes… I wouldn’t really call it excitement, but it most certainly was edge-of-your-seat stuff.
But I’m not sure that I walked away from RUN GIRL RUN satisfied… then again, it’s not like I had any real expectations going in. I think the slow opening put me off to such a degree that the taut ending failed to completely win me back… but I certainly remember those tense moments.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 11, 2014