Written in 1959 by Alan Sillitoe The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is one of the original ‘angry young man’ stories. It is about youth, class and the criminal justice system. More than fifty years later the story still stands and is just as relevant to life today, with the growing wedge between the rich and poor of our society, rising youth unemployment and falling educational aspirations will no doubt cause anger to bubble up once more.
Pilot Theatre has once again teamed up with York Theatre Royal to produce another wonderful piece of drama after this year’s tremendous Mystery Plays. Directed by Marcus Romer and adapted for the stage by the multi award winning writer Roy Williams OBE; arguably one of Britain’s leading dramatists.
Set in Olympic year 2012, a year on from the riots Colin Smith (Eliot Barnes-Worrell) is trying to make sense of his life, he is angry and frustrated but doesn’t know what to do about it. He is drawn into petty crime and soon finds himself in a young offender’s institution. Singled out by the Governor for his exceptional running ability Colin is persuaded to enter a race, thus highlighting the success of the Government’s tough policy on youth crime.
As Colin, Elliot Barnes-Worrell runs an estimated 3,000 metres per performance (the distance of an Olympic steeplechase race), on a specially constructed 6 metre long treadmill. Each performance is set in real race time, cleverly building the tension and anticipation with each thud of his steps. As Colin runs he thinks, through flashbacks of his life, his family and friends, he analyses the choices he has made, all portrayed by cast members and clever use of film.
Colin could easily win the race but through running forms ideas of his own, his anger frequently spilling out against all the people trying to control his life. He must decide who he is running for; is it to conform to and please the establishment he despises or is it for him and his love of running?
Without giving away the ending the play ends on a high; we feel Colin’s life will be tough but through his passion for running there is hope that he may have a future that he is in control of.
Elliot Barnes-Worrell superbly carries the production with his huge personality, strength and supreme fitness. His first starring role couldn’t be bettered, surely a star of the future and a name to remember. His enthusiastic applause from the audience was truly deserved. A sensational production in every way.
Showing at York Theatre Royal until September 29 then touring.