Running on the Cracks
York Theatre Royal
26 February – 2 March 2013
Reviewed by Nicola Cook
Running on the Cracks is a play by Pilot Theatre and Tron Theatre Company, which is based on a novel by Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo). The story focuses on Leo, a 15 year old girl who, at the beginning of the play, lives with her aunt and uncle following the sudden and tragic death of her musician parents. Events in the house lead Leo to run away to Glasgow, where she strives to find her long lost grandparents.
The play tackles many issues such as child runaways, bereavement, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and mental illness, although the play mainly focuses on Leo’s search for her estranged grandparents. There are also many light hearted moments between Leo and her new friends Finlay and Mary, preventing the play from becoming too dark.
The play starts with a whirlwind of scenes which work effectively to give the backstory to Leo’s life and prime the audience for the forthcoming story. During the introduction, two scenes were performed on stage at the same time, allowing the actors to quickly build up the place of the play. Within a short space of time Leo had become a run away in Glasgow. Although the introduction gave an important insight into Leo’s life, I did feel that it was a missed opportunity to create a relationship with the main character.
Whilst in Glasgow, the play introduces the audience to a range of characters, whose lives become interwoven. The play is performed by only five actors who play twenty characters between them. I felt that this was accomplished very well. The simple costume changes and successful characterisation meant that the actors changed roles seamlessly.
Audio and backing music is effective throughout the play to help set the scene. News reports are used well to build tension during changes in the scenes and sinister music is played during Uncle John’s scenes. Although this can add suspense to scenes within the plot, I never really felt that Leo was in danger of any serious harm; this resulted in a weak and unclear ending that felt rushed.
Overall, the play was interesting and the acting was at a very good standard. However, I think that the execution of the plot held the play back, as I felt that there was more scope for developing a compassion for the main characters.
Tickets cost from £8 – £12
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