The West

Review: Treadmill sets tremendous pace
Clare Phillips, Tom Browne and Laura Hughes. Picture: Mogens Johansen/WA News


Run Girl Run

4 stars

Grit Theatre Company

PICA Performance Space


The sweaty, exuberant Run Girl Run has been touted as an exploration of gender expression, that sort of thing, and I can buy that. Fortunately, because that sounds a pretty bleak way of spending an hour on those weird seats PICA have installed in their performance space, it's way broader than that, and way, way more entertaining.

Three characters (played by Tom Browne, Laura Hughes and Clare Phillips) are, literally, on a treadmill. Three of them are set up facing the audience, towards which the characters saunter, break into a brisk walk, a jog and, finally, a breakneck gallop. Along the way, they talk about stuff, about the ordering of their thirty-ish urban lives. They talk about (and drink) beer, blocks and houses, the art of arm touching, TVs, going up to Sydney for the weekend (this is a very Melbourne show) and the work shifts that get in the way, beer again, dogs, cars, and bemoan their beleaguered Bombers (a VERY Melbourne show). By now they are pounding the pavement, and their civilised veneers peel away in the tribal frenzy of the footy fan.

Pull back, and the process is repeated, this time with high heels, bubbly, make-up, bracelets, perfume, a little pink dress and lots of hair. None of which helps them keep up with a treadmill set on top speed, with hilarious, and a bit frightening, results.

You can call that gender expression, or bending, or whatever. You could play it straight and see the same mates, boys and girls alike, dressing up for a slut theme party the night after the footy. I don't think that's the core message here, though. The treadmill is the message.

Browne, Hughes and Phillips are engaging, adept performers. They give us the nuances of modern Australian city life very well and, through them, the impulse and imperative to conform - the treadmill we are all on. If Run Girl Run, in the end, is an extended skit rather than a fully formed play, it's a very good one.

Run Girl Run ends on February 1.

The West Australian

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