Written by Rob Evans
People Can Run
Unity Theatre (7th October 2006)

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Our consumerism-contorted society is a horrific hell-on-wheels from which people can run, but they can’t hide. That’s the inescapable argument of Aruba, a play that has already wowed crowds in New York and the Edinburgh Festival. Over the course of sixty thoroughly entertaining minutes, the ‘flight’ option is thoroughly pulled to bits, leaving the audience to wonder what other options they have.

Aruba is almost uniquely structured, with a multitude of characters being played by three actors on an otherwise empty stage. Each performer has their own twenty minutes of fame, as their main character steps into the limelight with their decidedly individual story.

Mark (Ben Lewis) is a ridiculously cocky ad man, who is always under pressure to come up with the next big catchphrase. Eventually he cracks under the strain, and takes a psychological vacation to the unspoiled island of Aruba. There he comes up with the ultimate postmodern slogan – ‘It’s JUST a shoe’ – that puts a certain brand of footwear on everyone’s feet. Well, everyone in the right demographic anyway.

Next, we meet Darren (Kieran Fay), a personal trainer with an Australian accent even thicker than his neck muscles. Mind you, his physique is not what it once was (the man is thirty-five after all), so his boss/girlfriend is trading him for a younger model. Dumped on the romance and career scrapheaps, he gatecrashes a workers and clients party at the gym, gets way too drunk, and ends-up joining Mark in Aruba.

The final millennial misfit is Nikki (Sophie Fletcher), a travel agency desk. She’s constantly plagued by people doing surveys in the street – who think her answers are boring anyway – and no one ever listens to her at work either. So what else can a poor travel agent do, apart from fantasise about holidaying in Aruba? Well there is one thing.

Rob Evans and People Can Run have created a dark yet breezy play that everyone in the wild western world could relate to. The tremendously talented trio of actors conjure-up plausible scenes of urban paranoia without the use of props or scenery. But then we know what the scenery looks like. It is the backdrop for our desperate and frustrated lives.

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