Tucked away down the residential streets of Kentish Town sits the Lion and the Unicorn Theatre, a simple black box space above a pub, the perfect setting to showcase new talent, such as this emerging theatre company, Shot in the Dark.
Getaway/Runaway tells a story of relationships and family dichotomy. We meet bickering but loyal siblings Elliot (Nye Occomore) and Saoirse (Kiera Murray) as they arrive at their father, Mark (Chris Moore) and his new partner, Alice’s (Coline Atterbury) house to stay. The play follows their relationships with each other and themselves.
On the surface they can seem like any other family: a pushy step mum, over protective ‘try-hard’ dad, and squabbling siblings. But as we delve further into the narrative we find out Elliott has an alleged rape charge, Mark is a reformed alcoholic just out of prison for manslaughter, whilst step mum Alice is his sponsor and a reformed sex addict herself. Saoirse is seen as the most relatively normal of the family with no big scandals or skeletons in the closet.
Although the acting efforts are relatively strong, the script does fall flat. We are thrown straight into the story at 100 miles per hour, leaving little room to grasp the storyline and the background context. The scenes themselves feel messy with each ending far too early, not fully fleshed out. During Mark’s conflict with his daughter over her new boyfriend there is a weird, potentially ‘sexually charged’ tense moment between them, but before it can even be delved into more we are rushed into the next scene with a new storyline and conflict altogether. Sometimes this really works in theatre, leaving the unspoken context up to the audience, but it this case it felt murky.
With compelling themes of mental health, addiction and sexual abuse quite often represented in theatre, it is getting harder to find original and authentic ways to tell these stories. The way they are here represented feels overdone and predictable. The use of movement sequences and red lighting during Alice’s scenes seducing Mark, resulting in them falling back into their ‘old ways’, feels on the tacky and cringey side. It doesn’t offer a fresh and new representation on these characters’ stories. A strong moment, where Saoirse explains why she left her job at the hotel after an awkward encounter with a naked MP, is all told with her back to the audience. The actors are in the round but having the audience ‘end on’ means the emotion in this speech is completely lost and it disconnected me from the action. This was later repeated in Mark’s alcohol relapse, which should have been a pivotal scene of heightened tension: it was lost.
Occomore’s portrayal of Elliot has to be commended. As a character he is awkward, lovable and one cannot help feeling protective of him the way his sister does. His tone of voice and constant fidgeting complements his commitment to the character. He does a good job garnering sympathy over his ordeal of being accused of rape and trying to repair his broken relationship with his father. This is, of course up, until his revelatory confession, yet it is not explored in depth.
Something positive can be said for Johnny Edwards’ eerie score. It is nerve-wracking and tense and really helps create an unsettled environment. However, this didn’t have the intended effect as the sound highly anticipated a conflict, but one never came, leaving me underwhelmed.
Overall, the direction and narrative fails to represent the twisted and dark stories of this family. Even through strong acting performances and comedic moments, Getaway/Runaway lacks depth and complexity.
Written by: Noah McCreadie
Directed by: Noah McCreadie and Hannah McLeod
Produced by: Shot in the Dark Theatre Company
Getaway/ Runaway plays at Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 29 July. Further information and bookings can be found here.