Writer: Titas Halder
Director: Hannah Price
Reviewer: Dan English
Charlie suffers with insomnia, but when this is coupled with an unusual obsession with an urban fox, his life takes a dangerous turn in this bold, new one-man play at Canterbury’s The Marlowe Studio.
Titas Halder’s Run The Best Down is the third original production to be produced by Canterbury’s Marlowe Studio (this in conjunction with Libby Brodie Productions), following successes Beached and A Better Woman. The one-man production combines theatre with live music as Ben Aldridge takes the lead as sleep-shy Charlie.
Ben Aldridge is Charlie, a man in his mid-twenties who has his life turned upside-down when he loses his job and girlfriend on the same day. Coupled with an unnerving experience with the neighbour’s cat, Aldridge’s character struggles to keep his sanity as he attempts to hunt down the elusive King Fox.
The most remarkable aspect of this entire production, directed by Hannah Price, is the originality of Aldridge’s performance. Tasked with engaging the audience solely for over 90 minutes, Aldridge not only creates a meaningful character in Charlie, but also exhaustingly presents the array of individuals that interact with the protagonist in his daily life. It is impressive that each character has its own individual trait that, While subtle, allows the storytelling to continue without stutter.
It is the portrayal of Charlie’s descent into madness that is particularly striking about this piece. Halder’s script presents Charlie as a civilised individual with demons, who slows turns to savagery as his life unfolds. Aldridge’s use of vocal expression, constantly ranging the pace of his projection, allows for this unravelling of Charlie’s state of mind to develop. There are moments of real horror portrayed successfully by Aldridge, with episodes of violence being just as effective with only one actor on stage.
Halder’s script is united with live musical accompaniment by Chris Bartholomew. At first, the music disrupts the piece and there are moments of angst that it could detract from the piece. Fortunately, this is quickly resolved and it is surprising just how well the music and script, separate from each other before this production, go together. The soundtrack certainly assists Aldridge in creating various atmospheres, especially during his character’s early party lifestyle.
The play is framed into seven clear sections, marked by Aldridge’s marking with a chalk pen on the stage floor. This simple yet effective design dismantles the performance in the same way that the appearance of the fox dismantles Charlie, combining design and script well. This is boosted by the use of strip neon lighting across the stage, with its multi-purpose usage, from block to strobe lighting creating a visual representation of Charlie’s slow decline.
Run The Beast Down is a fascinating look into the effects on an individual’s mentality when their life begins to dismantle. It is a mostly engaging script that is exquisitely executed by Aldridge, producing a memorable performance.
Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Contributed