Written by: Stephen Laughton
Directed by: Oli Rose
Performed by: Tom Ross-Williams
4* – On at Vaults Fest (London) until Sunday 14th Feb
“Us two aliens on either side of the solar system
And this little ET trying to call you home”
RUN, by Stephen Laughton, follows the story of 17 year old Yonni, who is Jewish, gay, in love and a little bit obsessed with space. It’s a take on the classic sexual awakening story, with a twist that sets it apart from the mainstream and is delivered as a series of beautiful freeze frames captured from a budding relationship, scrapbooked and shared with us, the audience.
Laughton’s writing is intricately beautiful, we are flown through the solar system, to a family kitchen, then to a deserted beach to rescue a whale; the blend of his writing and Tom Ross-William’s performance vividly conjure these places in to which we find ourselves immersed. The internal rhymes, placed skilfully by Laughton, surface every once in a while – catching you almost unawares, and are pleasing to hear, before they subside briefly. It adds a rhythm to the piece which drives it forward at a desirable pace, and keeps us engaged.
Tom Ross-Williams brings to role to life with an ernest and endearing portrayal of Yonni. I found myself wanting to be both his friend and ally as he faces the turbulent, exhilarating, exciting and nerve-wracking process of falling in love for the first time. Tom not only speaks the poetic language with a clear connection to Laughton’s vision for the piece, but brings his own physical skills to the stage. He physicalises elements of the story in such a way that the text and movement connect as one; we follow Yonni’s dance, and get caught by Tom’s mesmerising way of moving.
It runs at approximately an hour and a half, but Tom is so wholly captivating that it flies by. Without wanting to release a spoiler; a sudden turn of tone at the end left me feeling a little empty afterwards, I went home disappointed for the characters, but I suppose overall still satisfied with the play. Perhaps Laughton’s intention?
Either way, don’t miss out on this phenomenal piece of writing and performance, it’s a beautiful story, magnificently told, it would be a shame to let it pass you by.