🎭 Getaway / Runaway
📍 The Lion & Unicorn, 42-44 Gaisford Street, London NW5 2ED
🗓 Wednesday 26 July 2023
RAW AND EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX
On Wednesday, I went to see Getaway / Runaway, which is showing at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Camden until Saturday 29th July. I had no idea what to expect from this performance – especially given its advertised themes of abuse – but I was utterly compelled right from the outset.
Upon entering the theatre, audiences are greeted by the four actors sitting on chairs, staring blankly ahead. It’s an interesting choice on the part of the writer, Noah McCreadie, as it immediately invites you to make assumptions about each character and the roles they might play.
We hear first from Eliot, who gets up from the chair on the far left. It’s immediately clear he’s experiencing emotional distress, which intensifies as he looks down at his phone. His sister, Saoirse, then enters the scene, and we learn that they’ve come to visit their father for the first time since he got out of prison.
Through Eliot and Saoirse’s conversation, we quickly get a sense of their complex sibling relationship. Their interactions are fraught and snappy but also a little banterous at times. They share thoughts about the characters we’re yet to meet, giving clues and creating suspense about the family dynamic and what might play out.
Next, we’re introduced to dad Mark and shortly after, his girlfriend Alice appears on the scene. Mark is an alcoholic and has seemingly been drawn in by Alice’s manipulative ways and penchant for aggressive sex.
What follows is a series of tense – and sometimes laughable – conversations, uncomfortable revelations, emotional manipulation, an artistically coordinated violent sex scene and themes of alcoholism. All of this leads up to the play’s violent crescendo.
The play’s runtime is exactly one hour, and I found the pace to be particularly impressive. We learn early on that there’s much more to these characters than meets the eye, and as the play progresses we’re constantly given new, intriguing pieces of the puzzle. Each conversation and scene reveals a new layer to the characters’ struggles and emotional turmoil.
For me, the realistic and gritty nature of the script combined with the actors’ flawless interpretation of these characters created an unquestionably believable family dynamic. It was clear to me that each line had been carefully crafted and delivered to reveal another complex layer to each character and keep the audience on their toes.
The weight of the emotions explored was made all the more powerful by the pared-back set. There was a patch of tiling on the floor, on which the scenes played out and then four chairs in the background where the actors would sit when they weren’t in the scene. Props-wise there was a mobile phone whiskey barrel. And that’s it. Despite this, various lines in the script had me vividly imagining the house that the family were in, the view out the window, the garden and even the walk down to the beach. The writing and the way the actors moved around the stage, responding to one another, was very evocative.
The musical score and lighting only added to this. At points, the sounds in the background would mirror the ebb and flow of the sea, which we learn isn’t too far away from the house. And when the tension was particularly palpable, the drums would kick in and the lighting would turn red.
All of these elements combined to create a powerful and moving piece of theatre. If you’re looking to escape and get deeply lost in someone else’s story for an hour, I couldn’t recommend this play enough.
Getaway / Runaway will be at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre until Saturday 29 July. Head to https://www.thelionandunicornnw5.co.uk/theatre/ to check availability and book tickets.
CONTENT ADVISORY (from Shot In The Dark Theatre Co): Psychological & physical abuse, physical violence, references to sexual violence strong language, strong sexual language, strong sexual references, references to suicide, references to sexism and sexist language.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
My ticket for this performance was gifted by Noah McCreadie who invited me to review the production on behalf of Pink Prince Theatre. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in my star rating or the content of my review.