The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
by Alan Sillitoe
Adapted for the stage by Roy Williams
Directed by Marcus Romer
Presented by Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal
30th October - 3rd November 2012
It is over fifty years since Alan Sillitoe penned The Loneliness Of The
Long Distance Runner, but this adaptation for the stage shows how little
has changed since then, in regard to major social problems and the alienation
of British working class youngsters from mainstream society.
Most of the dialogue is taken from the original text but there is no
sign of it sounding dated in the least, even though the play focuses on
the riots which took place in England in 2011 and the frustrations and
anger endured by those taking part, notably the antisocial Colin Smith,
impressively portrayed by Elliot Barnes-Worrell.
In a very novel theatrical device he spends most of the time running
on a specially-designed treadmill, perhaps as a metaphor for running on
empty. As he pounds away through the woods and fields he constantly ruminates
on how he ended up in a young offender's institute as well as the characters
who have had major influences on his life, for good and bad - his father
being a benign influence and his materialistic mother less so.
The flashbacks he experiences while running are imaginatively portrayed,
notably a number of poignant comments from his now dead father on how
to conduct oneself in life. He made one particularly memorable quote,
stating that young people "now want to be not to do."