REVIEW: RUN (The Bunker) ★★★

Run The Bunker Theatre

Run is the dramatic story of a seventeen year old Jewish gay youth, Yonni. His forceful, dominating mother, Devorah, embarrasses him in front of his school friends. Not a good precursor to the summer holidays. But then, in the playground, he meets Adam and everything is suddenly different. There is a mutual attraction between them and love is in the air.

The whole play is in the form of a monologue. Yonni is alone on the stage telling his story. He talks animatedly, often changing subjects in mid sentence. He talks of trivial domestic problems such as Devorah’s second rate cooking and who should go to the local shop for challah (the Jewish ceremonial bread).

But Yonni’s mind is on Adam and the Jew camp that they both will be attending. Even more so when they find that they will be staying in the same dormitory.

The story is not easy to follow. It jumps around from his normal, (if somewhat dysfunctional) Jewish family to his secret sex with Adam in his Hendon Home. It moves unexpectedly between Yonni’s home and a beached whale on a Dungeness Beach.

The story becomes violent, but what is real and what is just in Yonni’s imagination?

Yonni is played by the excellent Tom Ross-Williams who has appeared in many theatrical productions as well as both television and film.

The Bunker is an excellent Off-West End theatre. Originally an underground car park, it has now been turned into a 110 seater troglodyte’s theatre. It has a lovely comfortable bar, the Mars Bar, with a low, low ceiling painted with planets, stars and stuff. All the front of house staff are stylish, friendly and welcoming, the directors are pleasant and approachable.

I find it regretful, therefore, that I did not enjoy the play more. Maybe I am too old and too slow witted to fully appreciate the jumps in the direction of the story and too world-weary to feel anything but fleeting empathy for the characters. I hope not. The occasional use of Hebrew does not help the, non-Hebrew speaking, majority of the audience, to understand what is going on, and the mid-sentence changes of subject were, to me, a bit confusing. Even after having subsequently read the script, I am not sure of some points in the story.

Overall the production is very subtle and clever. Helen Sartory’s music provides the perfect accompaniment particularly when Yonni’s monologue drifts into a fantasy world.

Tom Ross-Williams’ acting is exceptional, playing what must be a difficult part. He does however, seem to manage to grab the sympathy of the audience with what is an energetic, eloquent and heartfelt portrayal.

Reviewed by Graham Archer