Written for and originally published on A Younger Theatre
Many of us in the arts will bemoan an unpaid internship with the prospect of a low-paid job at the end of it, if at all. But what’s it like at the other end of the scale, where the stakes are high, the money’s big and the competition just as fierce? In its second production after the award-winning Missing, Engineer Theatre Collective turns its attention to the world of investment banking and four interns who enter the rat race.
Inspired by the story of Moritz Erhardt, a 21-year-old intern who died after reportedly working 72 hours straight in a financial placement, Run certainly suggests it will explore the darker side of interning in this lucrative and competitive industry. Yet there is also comedy here, as the cast establish and develop the personae of the four very different young people. As promised, they certainly do “give an authentic voice to these young financiers”, as they portray very believable and relatable characters. While there is some slight stumbling over lines on this opening night, the confident ensemble work tightly together, with a particularly strong performance from Charlotte Watson as Caroline. Newcomer to the company Al Jarrett provides much of the comedy in early scenes, but proves he can do thoughtful as well as flamboyant with a performance that develops nicely throughout.
In the programme, the company highlights its Lecoq-inspired work and use of physical theatre to explore new ways of storytelling; in truth, there isn’t a huge amount of this on show until the later stages of the piece, and even then it isn’t exactly revolutionary. While the nightclub scene brings out comedy with awkward dancing, in other scenes the dance and movement feels odd and isolated, suddenly appearing in a work that otherwise appears traditionally character- and dialogue-led. If the company is aiming to create electrifying and challenging new ways of story-telling, it needs to commit more fully to these elements. The current staging is secure, with scenes that move fluidly and a nifty lighting design by Oscar Wyatt, but I would like to see more experimentation with form and movement to create more dynamic and exciting theatre.
However, as a whole Run is entertaining, as the characters – rather stereotypical it has to be said, but well depicted all the same – negotiate the social awkwardnesses, potential office romances and workplace pressures of the internship. Yet while the characters ring true, what is missing is some real insight into why this is such an intense environment, and why these interns are driven to act in the way that they do; the consequences may be shocking (or at least, they would be if you didn’t already know the story of Moritz Erhardt) but there is little exploration as to how things reached such an extreme.
Run is a neat piece of theatre from a promising company, who should have the confidence to push their ideas further to develop solid work into something really ground-breaking.
Run is playing at the New Diorama Theatre until 29 November. For more information and tickets, see the New Diorama Theatre website.
A Younger Theatre is publication, production company and resource for emerging creatives. For reviews, features and more, visit www.ayoungertheatre.com