Paul T Davies reviews Run Rebel, a co-production between Pilot Theatre and the Mercury Theatre Colchester.
This co-production between Pilot Theatre and the Mercury contains all the elements now expected from Pilot’s literary adaptations; fast-moving, excellent physicality, and strong storytelling. Adapted from her novel by Manjeet Mann, core to the story is Amber, who feels free only when she runs, her outlet from a difficult home life, An alcoholic father, withholding love and affection, beating her mother, neither he or her mother speak English, floundering in the benefits and low paid system. She fears and awaits an arranged marriage, like her sister Ruby, but Amber, negotiating through troubled teenage years, wants more for her and her mother. If at first, it feels like this is going to be overwhelmingly tragic, its strength is in its optimism as, thanks to an inspiring teacher, Amber begins a revolution.
A strong ensemble find perfect synergy in Debbie Duru’s excellent design, encompassing a running track, school, home and effective projections by video designer Ben Glover. Jessica Kaur captures the vulnerability and growing strength of Amber perfectly, the audience on her side from the start. Asha Kingsley gives a moving performance as her mother, Surinder, especially when she learns to write her name in English, and Pushpinder Chani is a brooding threat as her father but makes him human enough so we understand his scarred childhood has cast a deep and harmful shadow in his life. Simran Kular is outstanding multi-rolling as Ruby, rebellious and inspiring Beena and more in the ensemble, as is Hannah Millward and Kiran Raywilliams, especially as love interest David. One of the many delights of this show is that, when Amber experiences joy, she asks if she can repeat the sequence-and it elicits cheers from the audience towards the end!
My only quibble is that diction was sometimes lost, especially among the younger members of the cast. But director Tessa Walker has created a thought-provoking, well-paced production, (no pun intended), that is involving and exciting and is a production for everyone, not just its target audience. It now goes on tour, so don’t let it run past you!
Tour details: Pilot Theatre