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Press  Coverage    

Pilot  Theatre   14  Sep  –  24  Nov  2012      

 


York  Theatre  Royal   14  –  29  Sep  2012  

 

 


Birmingham  Rep   2-­‐6  Oct    

 

 


Gala,  Durham   9  –  13  Oct    

 

 


New  Wolsey  Theatre,  Ipswich   16  -­‐  20  Oct      

 

 


One  Suffolk   The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner   http://www.onesuffolk.net/home/previews-and-reviews/reviews/the-loneliness-of-the-longdistance-runner/   By Rachel Sloane. Published 18 October 2012

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner at The New Wolsey Theatre. They were the sort of conversations you’d hear on any street corner where teenagers congregate. A mixture of jostling, bravado, flirting, a bit of swearing and plenty of “Innits”, and expressions like “it’s sick, man”. This play was an adaptation and updating, by Roy William, of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , a short story about class and criminal justice system , by Alan Sillitoe. Watching, the dialogue, costumes and attitudes were so realistic, you forgot this was a theatre and that it was young actors performing a script on a stage. It is 2012, and the runner of the title, Colin Smith (played by Elliot Barnes-Worrell) is in a Young Offenders Institute after stealing a cash box from Greggs, the bakery boarded up after the London riots. The story of Colin’s life, the death of his father, his mother’s new boyfriend, his friends, and his crime, are told in flashback, interspersed with life lived under the threat of violence in the Institute. His passion for running is spotted and encouraged by his despised mentor/coach, Stevens, (Dominic Gately), who persuades the authorities to let Colin run alone in the grounds, training to represent the Institute in a long-distance race. Does Stevens really have Colin’s best interests at heart or is he only anxious to win a political point, as the local private school is also competing? This new play came to Ipswich from Pilot Theatre, working with the York Theatre Royal. Pilot work with young actors developing new talent, and they also run education workshops in schools and provide teaching packs for their productions. This was an all-round strong cast but a special mention must go to Elliot Barnes-Worrell who must be the fittest actor around! The ingenious set comprised of projections onto a gauze screen which, when lit, revealed the characters in Colin’s past. In the foreground, set into the stage, was a moving treadmill where, as he told his story, he ran… and ran.. and ran. (And never seemed out of breath). Colin eventually takes control the race, and his life, in front of the crowds cheering him on, because, as he said, “I don’t race, I run.”

 


It was pleasing to see the New Wolsey Theatre almost full of teenagers, as several school parties were attending. Even if they hadn’t personally faced the life challenges that Colin had, they obviously empathised and understood his situation… and we older audience members learnt a little of what life is like for an inner city London kid. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner at The New Wolsey Theatre. They were the sort of conversations you’d hear on any street corner where teenagers congregate. A mixture of jostling, bravado, flirting, a bit of swearing and plenty of “Innits”, and expressions like “it’s sick, man”. This play was an adaptation and updating, by Roy William, of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , a short story about class and criminal justice system , by Alan Sillitoe. Watching, the dialogue, costumes and attitudes were so realistic, you forgot this was a theatre and that it was young actors performing a script on a stage. It is 2012, and the runner of the title, Colin Smith (played by Elliot Barnes-Worrell) is in a Young Offenders Institute after stealing a cash box from Greggs, the bakery boarded up after the London riots. The story of Colin’s life, the death of his father, his mother’s new boyfriend, his friends, and his crime, are told in flashback, interspersed with life lived under the threat of violence in the Institute. His passion for running is spotted and encouraged by his despised mentor/coach, Stevens, (Dominic Gately), who persuades the authorities to let Colin run alone in the grounds, training to represent the Institute in a long-distance race. Does Stevens really have Colin’s best interests at heart or is he only anxious to win a political point, as the local private school is also competing? This new play came to Ipswich from Pilot Theatre, working with the York Theatre Royal. Pilot work with young actors developing new talent, and they also run education workshops in schools and provide teaching packs for their productions. This was an all-round strong cast but a special mention must go to Elliot Barnes-Worrell who must be the fittest actor around! The ingenious set comprised of projections onto a gauze screen which, when lit, revealed the characters in Colin’s past. In the foreground, set into the stage, was a moving treadmill where, as he told his story, he ran… and ran.. and ran. (And never seemed out of breath). Colin eventually takes control the race, and his life, in front of the crowds cheering him on, because, as he said, “I don’t race, I run.” It was pleasing to see the New Wolsey Theatre almost full of teenagers, as several school parties were attending. Even if they hadn’t personally faced the life challenges that Colin had, they obviously empathised and understood his situation… and we older audience members learnt a little of what life is like for an inner city London kid.

 

 

 


Nottingham  Playhouse   23  -­‐  27  Oct    

 

 


Liverpool  Playhouse   30  Oct  -­‐  3  Nov      

 

 


Click  Liverpool   Review:  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner,  Liverpool  Playhouse   http://www.clickliverpool.com/culture/reviews/1217564-­‐review-­‐the-­‐loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐ runner,-­‐liverpool-­‐playhouse.html#SGZHKgGYT3RtyDKt.99   By  Toni  Garden.  Published  Wed  31  Oct  2012  12:59   Pounding  the  stage  on  a  cleverly  concealed  treadmill  for  almost  90  minutes  is  a  feat  in  itself,  but  young   lead  performer  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell  had  a  bigger  competitor  than  stamina  to  contend  with  in  a   modernised  script  adaptation  that  left  the  audience  desperate  to  see  the  finish  line.   Adapted  for  stage  by  Roy  Williams  from  Alan  Stiltoe’s  1959  kitchen  sink  drama,  the  loneliness  of  the  long   distance  runner  is  the  tale  of  Colin  Smith  (pronounced  cO-­‐lin  by  his  21st  century  brothers  on  the  street),   the  conflicted  17  year-­‐old  sent  down  for  petty  theft  in  the  aftermath  of  London’s  tottenham  riots.   The  modern  young  offenders  institute  plays  as  one  of  the  main  set  images  skillfully  projected  onto  an   opaque  framework  designed  by  Lydia  Denno,  providing  an  interactive  stage  and  a  looking  glass  into  the   inner  workings  of  Colin’s  mind.   In  the  modern  rehabilitating  prison,  a  natural  talent  for  running  is  seen  in  Colin  by  a  prison  warden  as   the  key  to  his  redemption  and  encourages  him  to  compete  in  a  prison  initiative  but  the  reluctant  youth   wants  nothing  of  redemption  and  uses  his  time  spent  running  alone  to  push  his  limits  and  question  his   morality.   The  troubled  young  man  of  Stiltoe’s  original  character  remains  and  thanks  to  the  beauty  that  is  human   nature,  will  always  be  relevant  but  the  adapted  contemporary  background  noise  of  Cameron’s  “Big   Society”  and  nuanced  politics  seem  to  overcrowd  the  script  and  its  quintessential  struggle  of  youth.   William’s  version  harks  back  to  the  youth  culture  Stiltoe  originally  meant  for  this  piece  but  injects  the   street  slang  and  up-­‐to  date  dialogue  that  seems  socially  aware  of  today’s  youth.  But  while  it  might  feel   like  a  refreshing  change  to  the  theatre  darlings,  20-­‐something  ears  were  left  cringing  at  the  generalised   teeth  sucking  representation  of  their  generation.   The  added  remarks  on  today’s  social  breakdown  only  work  to  lose  our  hero  to  a  series  of  flashbacks   slowing  down  the  pace  to  his  resolution.   The  loneliness  of  the  long  distance  runner  pounds  into  2012  with  a  promising  performance  from  its  lead,   but  its  pace  leaves  audiences  longing  for  a  streamlined  sprint  to  resolution  as  apposed  to  this  marathon   drama.      6/10  

 


Liverpool  Sound  and  Vision   The  Loneliness  Of  The  Long  Distance  Runner,  Theatre  Review.  Playhouse  Theatre,   Liverpool.   By  Ian  D.  Hall.  Published  on  October  30,  2012   Liverpool  Sound  and  Vision  Rating  *  *  *  *   Cast:  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell,  Doreene  Blackstock,  Curtis  Cole,  Dominic  Gately,  Savannah  Gordon-­‐Liburd,   Luke  James,  Jack  McMullen,  Richard  Pepple,  Alix  Ross,  Sean  Sagar.   Alan  Sillitoe’s  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  was  written  in  the  dying  days  of  National   Service  in  Great  Britain;  this  coupled  with  the  thought  of  young  offenders’  prisons  which  became  a  one-­‐ stop  shop  for  hope  being  abandoned  may  have  been  on  a  lot  of  people’s  minds  when  the  national  riots   of  2011  scarred  and  divided  the  nation.   What  to  do  with  the  young  that  took  part  in  them  provided  much  debate  in  every  home  throughout  the   country,  no  matter  what  was  the  final  punishment;  it  was  either  not  enough  or  too  much  depending  on   your  point  of  view.   Roy  Williams’  stage  adaptation  of  Alan  Sillitoe’s  work  brings  the  classic  look  at  the  system  that  locked   young  offenders  away  and  drops  it  smack  into  the  middle  of  the  biggest  riots  seen  in  Britain  for  a   generation.  The  tension  between  two  differing  points  of  view  is  highlighted  by  the  conflict  that  Colin   Smith,  portrayed  by  the  superb  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell  and  all  that  stands  between  him  and  the  freedom   he  craves  is  stifling,  somehow  unbearably  so  as  he  sees  his  world  descend  into  bitterness  and  anger.   The  causes  of  such  destruction  in  a  young  person’s  life  are  probably  never  really  explained  until  it’s  too   late  to  change  their  life.  Colin  on  the  other  hand  is  able  to  find  some  salvation  from  the  streets  and   authority  that  he  finds  on  both  sides  of  his  life.   To  be  confident  enough  to  hold  the  attention  of  an  entire  audience  whilst  performing  the  simulation  of   long  distance  running  via  a  treadmill  is  nothing  short  of  awe-­‐inspiring.  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell  somehow   gave  his  all,  and  then  some  more  in  a  part  that  he  shone  outstandingly  in.  Alongside  Mr.  Barnes-­‐Worrell   was  a  cast  that  made  the  production  come  alive  in  such  a  way  that  may  have  been  lost  in  another  time   and  with  less  well  versed  cast  who  were  able  to  convey  the  dangers  of  conforming  to  either  side  and  not   being  your  own  person.   The  confrontation  between  Colin  and  his  recently  widowed  mother,  played  with  great  appeal  by   Doreene  Blackstock  on  one  hand  and  the  guard  allegedly  on  his  side  convincing  him  to  run  were  scenes   of  utter  suffering  but  with  the  knowledge  this  was  a  man  who  would  survive  anything  by  being  honest  to   himself.   The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  should  be  required  viewing  by  all.  It  leaves  you  breathless.  

 


The  Public  Reviews   The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  –  The  Playhouse  Theatre,  Liverpool   http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-­‐loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐runner-­‐the-­‐playhouse-­‐theatre-­‐ liverpool/   By  Jamie  Gaskin.  Published  31  October  2012   The  Public  Reviews  Rating:  ★★★★½   Loneliness  is  generally  regarded  as  a  curse  –  but  for  one  person  it  is  his  one  chance  to  be  free.  He  is  the   eponymous  long  distance  runner  from  Alan  Sillitoe’s  celebrated  novel  filmed  in  the  early  60s  with  Tom   Courtney  as  Colin  Smith.  Here  playwright  Roy  Williams  brings  the  story  bang  up  to  date,  setting  it  at  the   time  of  last  year’s  riots  and  making  his  anti-­‐hero  black.   Elliott  Barnes-­‐Worrell  gives  a  very  physical  performance:  Rarely  still  in  this  80-­‐minute  straight-­‐through   production.  Yet  his  delivery  is  not  impaired  by  the  exertions  –  a  harder  trick  than  it  looks.  Throughout  he   maintained  a  compelling  presence  without  overacting.  But  is  Colin  running  towards  new  goals  or  just   trying  to  distance  himself  from  his  pathetic  past?   The  tormented  memories  of  watching  his  father  (Richard  Pepple)  suffer  a  painful  death  neglected  by  his   wayward  mother  (Doreene  Blackstock)  who  is  so  quick  to  find  a  new  boyfriend  and  even  quicker  to   squander  their  modest  inheritance.  Pepple’s  sensitive  portrayal  underscores  the  delicious  upbeat   callousness  exuded  by  the  flouncing  Blackstock.   Or  are  Colin’s  early  morning  runs  as  much  a  way  of  blowing  away  the  cynical  set-­‐up  he  is  sucked  into  at   The  Young  offenders  Institute.  As  a  favoured  inmate  he  is  mocked  and  tormented  by  his  fellows  and   suffers  a  creepy  condescension  from  do-­‐gooder  Stevens  (Dominic  Gately).  A  wonderful  display  of  how  to   be  patronising.  There’s  more  than  a  hint  of  mischievous  irony  when  an  uncharacteristic  outburst  from   Stevens  reveals  that  he  is  using  Colin  as  a  weapon  in  his  own  class  war.   It  was  amusing  to  see  that  the  path  of  romance  and  chat-­‐up  techniques  was  as  difficult  yet  tender   anyone  could  recall.  Kenisha  (Savannah  Gordon-­‐Liburd)  coping  well  with  the  embarrassed  difficulties  of   the  man  she  fancies.   Williams  has  crafted  a  middle-­‐distance  rather  than  full-­‐length  play  creating  fireworks  but  always   balancing  with  a  more  reflective  mood.  But  it  works  well  on  the  stage  because  it  is  very  much  a   director’s  play.  Marcus  Romer  and  the  set  designer  Lydia  Denno  were  highly  successful  in  filling  the   majesty  of  the  barn-­‐like  stage  of  the  Playhouse  without  compromising  on  the  intimacy  and  very   personal  nature  of  Colin’s  fears  and  how  he  succeeds.  The  overwhelming  size  of  the  set  compared  with   Colin  is  almost  a  metaphor  for  the  task  he  faces  in  the  narrative.   All  in  all,  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  is  a  touring  play  which  will  certainly  go  the   distance.  

 


Sevenstreets   Review:  The  Loneliness  Of  The  Long  Distance  Runner   http://www.sevenstreets.com/performance-­‐and-­‐film/review-­‐the-­‐loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐ runner/   By  Robin  Brown.  Published  31  October  2012     This  update  on  Sillitoe's  classic  has  much  to  commend  it  but  seems  as  confused  as  its  protagonist  at  the   finish  line.   Updating  Alan  Sillitoe’s  classic  Angry  Young  Man  short  story  to  a  modern  setting  of  London  gangs,   atavistic  youths  and  David  Cameron’s  moral  crusade  in  response  to  2011ʹ′s  rioting  seems,  on  the  face  of   it,  a  no-­‐brainer.   The  classic  story  of  a  borstal  boy  rebelling  against  authority  the  only  way  he  can,  through  his  love  of   running,  represents  the  young  generation’s  frustration  with  –  and  anger  towards  –  authority  as  well  as   any  Wild  One  or  Easy  Rider.   Things  are  off  to  a  good  start  with  a  striking  set  centred  around  a  running  machine  that  sees  Elliot   Barnes-­‐Worrell  as  protagonist  Colin  Smith  run  over  five  kilometres  during  the  night.  It’s  no  mean  feat  to   run  and  talk,  let  alone  deliver  a  performance  a  strong  as  the  one  seen  here.   There’s  strong  support,  particularly  form  Doreen  Blackstock  and  Richard  Pepple  as  Colin’s  parents,  and   Dominic  Gately  convinces  as  Home  Office  man  Stevens.   But  where  the  original  short  story  and  film  reflected  a  coming  shift  in  attitudes  towards  class  and   authority,  it’s  not  clear  what  we’re  supposed  to  makes  of  Colin’s  antagonism  towards  Stevens,  a  kind  of   right-­‐on  liberal  archetype  who  isn’t  especially  believable,  beyond  the  minds  of  Daily  Mail  readers.   Amongst  a  difficult  domestic  background,  Colin’s  staunchly  socialist  father,  the  2011  riots,  his   materialistic  mates  and  the  general  angst  of  adolescence  it’s  never  really  clear  what  Colin  believes  in,   what  he’s  railing  against  or  why  he  takes  his  stance  against  the  admittedly  irritating  Stevens.   The  updating  of  the  story  occasionally  feels  rather  heavy-­‐handed  –  and  the  addition  of  the  Prime   Minister’s  voice  to  punctate  proceedings  seems  rather  laboured.   Roy  Williams’  new  adaptation  seems  determined  to  spell  out  some  of  the  points  of  Sillitoe’s  story,  but   the  end  result  seems  confusing;  the  audience  as  unclear  as  to  what  point  is  being  made  as  Colin  seems   over  what  drives  him  to  commit  his  act  of  rebellion  –  and  to  whom  he’s  thumbing  his  nose.   The  end  result  is  of  a  strong  production,  but  a  confused  narrative  that  never  quite  manages  to  chase   down  the  point  it’s  searching  for.    

 


Liverpool  Echo     Theatre  Review:  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner,  Liverpool  Playhouse   http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-­‐entertainment/echo-­‐entertainment/2012/10/31/theatre-­‐ review-­‐the-­‐loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐runner-­‐liverpool-­‐playhouse-­‐100252-­‐ 32133125/#ixzz2CxqcwJEq   Published  on  31  Oct  2012   8/10  Stays  the  distance     ALAN  Sillitoe,  along  with  fellow  1950s  writers  like  John  Osborne  and  John  Braine,  were  quick  to  eschew   the  moniker  ‘angry  young  men’  bestowed  on  them.   But  their  creations,  particularly  Sillitoe’s  ‘anti-­‐heroes’  Colin  Smith  and  Arthur  Seaton,  and  Osborne’s   Jimmy  Porter,  personified  the  frustrations  of  the  disaffected  youth  struggling  with  the  socio-­‐  economic   realities  of  a  post-­‐war,  pre-­‐Swinging  Sixties  Britain.   While  Look  Back  in  Anger  and,  to  a  lesser  extent,  Saturday  Night,  Sunday  Morning,  now  look  rather  like   period  pieces,  Sillitoe’s  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  (as  told  here  in  a  new  adaptation  for   Pilot  Theatre  by  Roy  Williams)  has  proved  to  have  the  stamina  to  survive  not  only  half  a  century  but  still   have  a  realistic  resonance  in  2012.   Placing  the  story  in  the  here  and  now  of  Olympic  year  and  in  the  long  shadow  of  the  2011  riots  could   have  easily  been  a  dramatic  conceit  too  far.  But  Williams  shows  a  deft  hand,  bending  Sillitoe’s  original   only  slightly  to  create  his  contemporary  tale  while  at  the  same  time  avoiding  becoming  too  preachy.   To  succeed,  however,  it  needs  to  be  anchored  by  a  strong  central  performance,  and  Elliot  Barnes-­‐ Worrell  is  terrific  as  the  articulate  but  unfocused  Colin  who  finds  an  escape  from  the  bleakness  of  his  life   –  the  death  of  his  cherished  father,  clashes  with  his  mum’s  new  boyfriend,  recklessly  courting  trouble   with  feckless  best  mate  Jase  (Jack  McMullen)  leading  to  a  spell  in  a  Young  Offenders  Institute  –  through   the  eponymous  solo  sport.   The  young  actor  is  fresh  out  of  drama  college  and  Runner  is  only  his  second  professional  stage  gig.   Happily  he’s  also  a  long  distance  runner  in  real  life,  pacing  out  with  ease  around  4km  per  performance   on  a  built-­‐in  treadmill  at  the  centre  of  designers  Lydia  Denno  and  Mark  Beasley’s  multi-­‐media  set  while   delivering  his  lines  with  a  similar  rhythmic  quality.   There’s  a  realistic  feel  to  Williams’  dialogue  and  some  strong  supporting  performances.   The  action  happens  in  ‘real  time’  during  the  course  of  Colin’s  big  race,  and  director  Marcus  Romer  keeps   things  ticking  along  by  juxtaposing  Colin’s  solo  musings  with  engaging  (and  often  surprisingly  amusing)  

 


interaction  between  his  protagonist  and  the  people  who  populate  his  life,  from  the  Young  Offenders   heavies  to  girlfriend  Kenisha  to  Dominic  Gately’s  (tor)mentor  Stevens  .     Website  Comment:   By  DS.  9:04  PM  on  31/10/2012   An  uplifting,  inspiring  production.  Mesmerising  acting.  A  sign  that  the  Playhouse  might  preserve  the   Everyman's  reputation  for  creativity  and  challenging  thought.    

 

 


WhatsOnStage.com   The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  (Tour  -­‐  Liverpool)   http://www.whatsonstage.com/news/theatre/northwest/E8831351686068/The+Loneliness+of+the+Lo ng+Distance+Runner+(Tour+-­‐+Liverpool).html   By  Carole  Baldock.  Published  31  October  2012   WOS  Rating:  ****     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.    

 

 


Liverpool  Daily  Post   THEATRE  REVIEW:  The  Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner,  Liverpool  Playhouse   http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-­‐culture/liverpool-­‐arts/2012/11/01/theatre-­‐review-­‐the-­‐ loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐runner-­‐liverpool-­‐playhouse-­‐99623-­‐32134045/#ixzz2CxsaWjUQ   By  Laura  Davis,  Liverpool  Daily  Post.  Published  1  November  2012     YOU  feel  almost  out  of  breath  just  watching  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell  in  Roy  Williams’s  reworking  of  The   Loneliness  of  the  Long  Distance  Runner  but,  despite  him  racing  an  estimated  4km  per  performance  on  a   treadmill  built  into  the  stage,  he  barely  breaks  into  a  sweat.   The  secret  to  winning,  he  reveals  at  the  outset,  is  to  be  fast  but  not  to  rush  –  which  is  exactly  what  this   21st  century  version  of  Alan  Sillitoe’s  1959  short  story  succeeds  in  achieving.   The  fast-­‐paced  production  transports  likeable  young  delinquent  Colin  Smith  to  post-­‐2011  riots  London   and  in  comparison  makes  the  1950s  original  seem  rather  quaint.   Yet  in  a  damning  indictment  of  today’s  society,  both  boys  share  the  same  problems.  They  feel  angry,   isolated  and  have  trapped  themselves  into  fighting  a  battle  against  an  unseen  establishment  –  a  battle   they  do  not  really  understand.   While  the  politics,  outline  plot  and  some  of  the  dialogue  is  Sillitoe’s,  Williams  has  made  the  story  belong   to  now.   His  adaptation  is  bold.  He  has  not  allowed  himself  to  be  chained  to  the  original,  yet  by  freeing  himself   from  its  constraints  he  has  been  able  to  be  truer  to  it.   It’s  a  slick  production  with  a  stylish  set  by  Lydia  Denno,  who  uses  video  projection  to  help  tell  Colin’s   story  in  flashbacks  during  a  race  in  which  he  is  representing  his  young  offenders  institution.   Aside  from  demonstrating  physical  stamina,  and  the  ability  to  talk  and  gesticulate  while  running,  Barnes-­‐ Worrell  makes  a  natural  Colin  –  his  cheekiness  gradually  slipping  into  frustration  as  he  finds  a  way  of   taking  a  stand  against  his  situation  that  will  spite  himself  as  much  as  those  to  whom  he  is  sending  a   message.   Sillitoe’s  no  nonsense  borstal  governor  has  been  replaced  by  the  well-­‐meaning  Stevens  –  played  as  a   naive  but  genuinely  caring  character  by  Dominic  Gately  –  who  thinks  word  association  tests  and  a   friendly  attitude  will  help  him  get  through  to  the  boys.   Some  of  the  points  are  a  bit  laboured  –  we  don’t  need  to  hear  clip  after  clip  of  David  Cameron  banging   on  about  rioters  taking  responsibility  for  their  actions  to  question  why  the  Government  is  shirking  its   own  accountability  for  our  country  failing  its  young  people  –  but  Pilot  Theatre’s  production  brings  an  

 


immediacy  to  Sillitoe’s  work  that  shows  how  relevant  it  continues  to  be  more  than  half  a  century  after  it   was  written.    

 

 


Manchester  Salon   The  Loneliness  of  The  Long  Distance  Runner   http://www.manchestersalon.org.uk/the-­‐loneliness-­‐of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐runner.html   By  Jane  Turner.  Published  November  2012     “You  only  have  power  over  people  so  long  as  you  don’t  take  everything  away  from  them.  But  when   you’ve  robbed  a  man  of  everything,  he’s  no  longer  in  your  power  –  he’s  free  again”.  Alexander   Solzhenitsyn   In  Alan  Sillitoe’s  classic  story  of  freedom,  Colin  Smith  the  protagonist  is  a  free  man  by  this  definition  and   chooses  to  make  his  own  history  but  not  in  conditions  of  his  own  choosing.  In  doing  so,  he  exercises  his   free  will  and  demonstrates  his  resilience  and  determination.   Elliott  Barnes-­‐Worrell  as  Colin  Smith  certainly  goes  the  distance  and  delivers  an  adrenaline  rush  in  more   ways  than  one,  in  this  compelling  and  brave  adaptation  in  a  contemporary  setting,  of  an  Alan  Sillitoe   classic.  The  adaptation  is  by  BAFTA  winning  and  Olivier  Award  nominated  playwright  Roy  Williams  OBE   (Sucker  Punch,  Fallout,  Sing  Yer  Heart  Out  For  The  Lads).   The  play  brings  to  life  the  biting  realism  that  Sillitoe  so  vividly  depicted  in  his  1959  novel  and  this   production  sets  it  in  the  present  day.  Barnes-­‐Worrell,  in  his  first  professional  performance,  won  me  over   with  a  superb,  muscular  and  agitated  performance,  most  of  which  is  spent  running  on  a  treadmill,  word-­‐ perfect  and  never  breathless.  He  emerges  from  several  long  running  scenes,  dives  straight  into  flashback   sets  without  breaking  sweat.  You  can  tell  he  is  a  long  distance  runner  in  real  life  –  and  he  certainly  runs   away  with  the  prize  for  the  stand-­‐out-­‐performance!   Sillitoe,  a  writer  with  emotional  power  and  a  soul  rooted  in  the  Nottingham  working  class  community,   originally  wrote  this  as  a  short  story  in  a  larger  collection.  The  tone  in  the  book  is  bleak  and  typically   defiant,  angry  and  bitter  with  occasional  relief  from  Sillitoe’s  sardonic  humour,  whereas  this  new   production  is  much  more  affable.  It  has  previously  been  adapted  for  a  film  of  the  same  title,  with  the   part  of  Smith  played  by  Tom  Courtenay  (1962),  but  this  version,  despite  following  the  same  structure  as   the  book  and  having  the  same  central  character  in  Colin  Smith,  is  a  world  apart  from  both  the  book  and   the  1962  film.   Whereas  Sillitoe  gave  a  new  voice  to  the  angry,  white  working-­‐class,  in  Williams’s  version  which  seems   to  be  set  in  the  black  community  of  south  London,  we  hear  the  voice  and  patois  of  the  post-­‐riot  black   urban  youth  of  today;  “cops”  become  “feds”  and  there  are  lots  of  “ya  get  me’s”  and  “innits”  and   swaggering  cheeky  street  slang  thrown  in.  The  youth  wear  their  pants  half  way  down  their  backsides  and   display  a  very  different  arrogance  (as  well  as  arse)  to  that  of  a  1950’s  Colin  Smith.  They  seem  to  be  part   of  a  protest  about  young  people  with  no  prospects,  instead  of  in  a  tale  depicting  how  one  can  personally  

 


and  defiantly  handle  oppression  and  imprisonment  and  gain  a  certain  kind  of  freedom  in  a  spectacular   display  of  free  will  and  a  standoff  with  authority,  which  is  how  I  interpreted  the  original  story.   The  voice  of  David  Cameron  using  the  ubiquitous  “L”  word  (legacy)  and  harping  on  about  “justice”  plays   out  from  the  television  in  the  Smiths’  living  room,  and  he  sounds  every  bit  as  pompous  and  out-­‐of-­‐place   and  touch  as  he  does  whenever  he  speaks,  with  the  gulf  between  “them  and  us”  neatly  illustrated.   Despite  one  or  two  minor  criticisms,  as  a  fan  of  the  writing  in  the  original  book,  I  thoroughly  enjoyed  it.   It  works  as  a  new  story  based  on  an  original  and  is  skilfully  produced,  artistically  directed  (Marcus   Romer),  creatively  scripted  without  being  too  preachy.  The  set  is  visually  stunning  in  its  simplicity  and   cleverly  uses  semi-­‐transparent  screening  that  allows  new  voices  and  characters  on  stage  whilst  at  the   same  time  keeping  them  discretely  in  the  background.  It  has  vitality  and  spirit  in  buckets  thanks  to  the   energetic  and  talented  cast.   To  begin  with,  I  took  to  my  seat  in  the  packed-­‐out  Liverpool  Playhouse  Theatre  with  a  very  different   Colin  Smith  in  mind  (as  depicted  in  the  book)  –  white,  working  class,  pale-­‐faced,  long  and  skinny  –  a  not   very  attractive,  sly,  mean-­‐spirited  and  defiant  petty  criminal  from  an  impoverished  home.  The  Colin  I   saw  before  me  on  the  stage  was  a  rather  different  breed  –  good-­‐looking,  muscular,  extremely  fit,   moody,  witty,  likeable,  admirable  even  and  depicted  as  having  the  potential  to  change  and  to  “turn  his   life  around”  unlike  Colin  the  original,  who  was  set  on  a  life  of  crime.  Indeed  “new  Colin”  was  so   attractive  that  he  was  wolf-­‐whistled  regularly!  During  the  after-­‐show  discussion,  the  row  of  young  girls   behind  me  could  not  stop  whispering  about  and  openly  hankering  after  him!  You  could  see  him  blushing   and  shyly  enjoying  the  exuberant  applause,  and  well  deserved  too.   I  do  think  the  original  script  is  neglected  somewhat,  as  Sillitoe’s  writing  is  rich  with  Colin’s  inner   dialogue,  whereas  this  adaptation  was  thinner  on  narrative  in  comparison.  Despite  being  told  in  the   after-­‐show  discussion  that  80%  of  the  script  remains  true  to  the  book,  I  do  have  my  doubts  about  that   assertion.  However,  it  is  a  great  piece  of  theatre,  which  like  the  original  raises  many  questions  in  its   modern  portrait  of  a  disaffected  generation  whilst  at  the  same  time  introducing  and  re-­‐marketing   Sillitoe’s  50-­‐year-­‐old  story  to  a  completely  new  and  younger  audience.   The  tale  jogs  along  as  rhythmically  as  the  runner  in  the  form  of  a  first  person  monologue  with  Smith   introducing  themes  of  loneliness,  alienation  and  self-­‐determination.  It  focuses  on  Smith,  a  poor   teenager  from  a  miserable  home  in  a  blue-­‐collar  area,  who  has  bleak  prospects  and  few  interests   beyond  petty  crime  and  who  turns  to  long-­‐distance  running  as  a  way  out  of  his  situation,  which  provides   him  with  both  a  physical  and  mental  escape  from  his  surroundings.  He  argues  frequently  with  his   mother  (played  with  urban  sassiness  by  Doreene  Blackstock)  who  is  always  on  at  him  to  get  a  job,  and   yearns  for  his  dead  father  (Richard  Pepple,  who  also  plays  mums  lover  Trevor)  and  thus  belongs  to  the   archetypal  single-­‐parent-­‐absent  father  family  often  held  up  as  the  root  of  all  evil  by  espousers  of   traditional  family  values.  The  addition  of  a  love-­‐interest  in  the  form  of  the  gutsy  and  influential  Kenisha   (Savannah  Gordon-­‐Liburd)  brings  a  new  dimension  to  the  story.  She  introduces  the  possibility  of  another   way  of  doing  things,  a  different  way  of  escaping  than  a  life  of  crime  and  the  hope  of  a  more  positive  and  

 


modern  ending  to  Smiths  life,  than  that  in  the  original  story,  where  Smith  develops  pleurisy  and   continues  on  his  one  man  crime  spree.   Some  may  see  Smith  as  a  working  class  hero  standing  up  to  the  system,  as  he  is  certainly  not  one  to   follow  the  crowd  or  tug  at  his  forelock.  In  this  adaptation,  we  see  him  listening  to  and  reflecting  on  the   advice  of  his  dead  father  who  told  him  “everyone  wants  to  be  and  no  one  wants  to  do”  and  who   condemned  the  actions  of  the  2011  rioters  in  which  the  young  Smith  took  no  part.  However,  Smiths’   unrelenting  attitude  is  as  cold  and  frostbitten  as  the  earth  he  pounds  and  alone  with  his  thoughts,  the   question  of  why  and  for  whom  he  runs  springs  to  mind.  In  my  opinion,  Smith  is  hardly  an  admirable   character  and  his  anti-­‐establishment  stance  serves  only  as  a  justification  for  his  selfishness,  criminality   and  distorted  attitude  to  life.  He  never  considers  anyone  but  himself,  sparing  no  thought  to  the  victims   of  or  the  consequences  of  his  crimes  and  in  a  scene  with  Stevens,  the  prison  authority  figure  (played   with  a  stern  face  by  Dominic  Gateley),  where  he  demands  of  him  “give  us  something  new,  you’re  the   grown-­‐ups,  fight  for  us”  I  think  he  displays  many  of  the  characteristics  nurtured  in  modern  day   dependency  culture.   When  caught  on  surveillance  camera  (none  of  those  in  1950!)  robbing  Greggs  (or  these)  the  bakery  with   his  friend  Jase  (a  rather  lively  Jack  McMullen),  Smith  is  confined  to  a  young  offenders  institution.   Detained  in  bleak  and  restricted  circumstances,  and  seeking  solace  in  long-­‐distance  running,  he  attracts   the  attention  of  the  authorities  due  to  his  physical  prowess.  Offered  the  prospect  of  early  release  if  he   wins  an  important  race  against  a  prominent  public  school,  which  would  provide  a  prestigious  boost  to   the  establishment,  Smith  has  an  incentive  to  co-­‐operate.  But,  on  the  day  of  the  competition,  he   deliberately  stops  short  of  the  finishing  line  to  let  the  other  runners  pass  him  in  a  defiant  and  deliberate   gesture  of  contempt  aimed  at  the  repressive  forces  of  the  corrupt  establishment  he  despises,  and  at  the   same  time  demonstrating  a  surly  defiance,  his  free  spirit,  free  will  and  independence.   Smith  is  not  easy  to  like,  and  yet  because  of  the  way  in  which  this  story  was  written,  the  audience  is  able   to  find  something  positive  about  him,  and  about  man’s  indefatigable  spirit  in  the  face  of  oppression.  You   can  thank  Sillitoe  for  this  as  he  manages  to  elicit  compassion  for  a  young  and  selfish  petty  criminal,   bringing  out  his  under  the  surface  vulnerability,  his  sly  humour  and  finding  within  him  an  admirable   attitude  and  spirit,  which  is  characteristic  of  time  and  place.  He  hates  the  establishment  and  anyone   associated  with  it,  he  refuses  to  play  by  anyone’s  rules  and  he  takes  pleasure  in  exercising  his  own  free   will.   An  imaginative  production  of  a  50  year  old  story,  with  dynamic  performances  from  the  rather  likeable   cast  of  robbers  and  rogues.  Barnes-­‐Worrell  might  not  be  breathless  at  the  end  of  it,  but  you  just  might   be!    

 

 


The  Brewhouse,  Taunton   7  -­‐  10  Nov    

 

 


Theatre  Royal  Winchester   13  -­‐  17  Nov    

 

 


Lawrence  Batley  Theatre,   Huddersfield  

 

21  -­‐  24  Nov    

 


Huddersfield  Daily  Examiner     Theatre:  The  Loneliness  Of  The  Long  Distance  Runner  comes  to  the  LBT   http://www.examiner.co.uk/leisure-­‐and-­‐entertainment/arts-­‐news/2012/11/16/theatre-­‐the-­‐loneliness-­‐ of-­‐the-­‐long-­‐distance-­‐runner-­‐comes-­‐to-­‐the-­‐lbt-­‐86081-­‐32241984/   By  Val  Javin,.  Published  16  November  2012     IT  IS  a  show  that  hits  the  ground  running  and  for  the  lead  actor,  never  stops.   In  his  first  theatre  role  since  leaving  drama  school  in  the  summer,  Elliot  Barnes-­‐Worrell  was  perfect   casting.   This  young  actor  who  loves  to  run  was  exactly  what  director  Marcus  Romer  had  been  looking  for  to  play   the  central  role  in  the  iconic  play,  The  Loneliness  Of  The  Long  Distance  Runner.   “It’s  Elliot’s  first  professional  job  since  leaving  the  Central  School  of  Speech  and  Drama,”  said  the  show’s   director,  Marcus  Romer.   “He  finished  his  training  in  July  and  he  was  working  with  us  in  August.  He’s  21.  He’s  a  trained  actor  and   he’s  a  runner.  We  struck  lucky  at  the  casting.”   “We  are  going  to  see  a  lot  more  of  Elliot.   “I  am  really  excited  about  finding  an  actor  with  such  talent  who  has  risen  to  the  challenge  and  done  so   extraordinarily  well.”   See  Elliot  at  the  Lawrence  Batley  Theatre  next  week  as  Colin  Smith,  the  defiant  young  man  in  Alan   Sillitoe’s  classic  Fifties’  story  which  is  just  as  relevant  today  as  it  was  then.   In  Sillitoe’s  piece,  updated  by  playwright  Roy  Williams  in  this  stage  version,  to  the  aftermath  of  last   year’s  Tottenham  riots  in  London,  long  distance  running  offers  Smith  a  welcome  distraction  from  the   Young  Offenders  Institution  to  which  he  has  been  sent  for  looting.   He  is  offered  the  prospect  of  early  release  if  he  wins  in  a  cross-­‐country  competition  against  youngsters   from  a  public  school.   It  might  seem  an  obvious  incentive  to  cooperate  but  as  Colin  runs,  we  discover  what  his  life  was  like   before  and  what  he  hopes  it  might  yet  be.   For  many,  the  title  of  the  piece  conjures  up  images  of  Tony  Richardson’s  iconic  film  made  in  the  Sixties   and  starring  Tom  Courtenay  as  Colin.   But  Sillitoe’s  story  remains  a  parable  for  today.  In  today’s  unsettled  times  it  will  continue  to  resonate  for   many  who  see  this  co-­‐production  between  award-­‐winning  Pilot  Theatre  and  York  Theatre  Royal.  

 


The  production  opens  at  the  LBT  on  Wednesday  and  runs  until  Saturday.   During  each  performance,  Elliot  will  be  on  stage  for  the  entire  90  minutes.   He  will  spend  it  running  about  3,000  metres  –  the  same  distance  as  an  Olympic  steeplechase  race  except   he  will  be  doing  it  on  a  specially  constructed  six  metres  long  treadmill.   “We  run  the  race  in  real  time.  There’s  no  interval,”  said  Marcus.   “At  the  end,  Colin  decides  to  throw  the  race.  He  has  to  make  a  choice.  For  him  that’s  a  very  empowering   moment.   “He  let’s  the  posh  boy  from  the  public  school  win.  He  stands  there  and  lets  that  happen.  It  is  a  moment   of  defiance  and  choice.   “The  impact  of  it  is  like  Mo  Farah  getting  to  the  line  and  not  crossing  it.  It’s  unthinkable.”   “I  think  it  is  a  very  powerful  piece  which  still  has  a  lot  to  say,”  said  Marcus.   For  Elliot,  who  plays  Colin,  the  role  has  had  as  many  physical  as  well  as  emotional  challenges.   Fortunately,  he  is  in  to  his  sport.  He  practices  thai  kick  boxing  and  used  to  run  10km  once  a  week  as  part   of  the  London  urban  running  collective  Run  Dem  Crew.   Once  he’d  landed  the  part  of  Colin,  he  had  to  step  up  the  mileage,  training  four  times  a  week.   You’ll  see  why  he  needed  it.  There  are  six  performances  at  the  LBT,  four  evening  shows  plus  matinees  on   Thursday  and  Saturday.   That  means  in  four  days  of  shows  in  Huddersfield,  Elliot  will  clock  up  something  like  18,000  metres  on   that  treadmill.   “My  passion  for  running  the  streets  was  borne  out  of  Run  Dem  Crew.  It’s  like  a  family  and  we  aim  to  run   hard,  fast  and  strong  but  we  leave  no  one  behind,”  said  Elliot.   “Then  when  I  got  the  role  of  Colin  I  started  running  solo,  just  to  get  that  loneliness  feeling.   “It’s  really  helped  my  understanding  of  his  character,  of  how  he’s  thinking  all  the  time,  reliving  every   detail  of  what  has  gone  before.’   Tickets  can  be  booked  via  the  theatre  box  office  on  01484  430528  or  online  at  www.thelbt.org.  

 


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Press Coverage  

Read all the coverage of our recent tour of Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, adapted by Roy Williams

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