Printable CopyMARATHON
Adapt Enterprises
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 30 Nov 2019

Review by Anthony Vawser

The act of presenting human experience on the live theatre stage brings with it a unique brand of electricity that runs between a performer and their audience. This is but one of the many theatrical virtues that other art-forms cannot quite approximate.

Conversely, one of theatre’s potential drawbacks is the physical limitations imposed by the performing space. The very idea of a play that strives to break through the theoretical boundaries of the stage, and to simulate a charging-out into wide-open spaces, or travel across vast distances, automatically brings with it a true thrill, not to mention a tantalising promise of something remarkable – which is why any prospective production of Edoardo Erba’s “Marathon” will be of great intrinsic interest to avid theatregoers.

The title is no metaphor; this two-hander has its pair of characters set out on a private running expedition, hoping to accumulate enough useful practice to eventually make their mark in New York City. Along the way, the men reveal themselves to us, and each other, by means of small talk generated to pass the time as the miles clock ever upward and the distances ever onward…

Gradually, both the substance and the tone of what is shared between our co-protagonists start to subtly shift from the initial familiar banality, with the meaning and significance of Erba’s text both broadening and deepening as the physical impact on each runner continues to accumulate…At the end of this one-act, one-hour presentation, you will hopefully have the pleasure of being both surprised and impacted by the manner in which it concludes.

“Marathon” is a formally daring piece of theatre, simply by dint of demanding that its cast maintain a jogging action, mostly in-place, virtually from start-to-finish. This results in the play being positively enhanced by what this reviewer would describe as ‘actuality drama’, meaning that what we witness from these performers – Todd Grey and director Ross Vosvotekas – goes largely beyond the traditional definition of ‘acting’, because while the marathon training that we see being undertaken is, in a sense, being mimed, it is definitely not being ‘faked’, because it simply cannot be.

The characters collectively present as a portrait that highlights various facets of frustrated masculinity, with one runner appearing more aspirational and all-around confident than his companion. Along the journey, there is whining, insecurity, and confusion, as well as a level of misogyny that they seem to mutually encourage in each other. Like them or not, these men are surely both recognisable and believable in all their attributes and flaws.

Colin Teevan appears to have done a deft and skilful job with translation of the original text, managing even to incorporate some English-language punning, as well as AFL football references that don’t seem either gratuitous or out-of-place. The dusky lighting design has been well-judged and aids the overall mood quite nicely.

This reviewer hopes that his appraisal has given you more-than-enough motivation to consider (figuratively) slipping on your sweatbands and strapping up your sneakers to join this particular “Marathon”. Adapt Enterprises have brought a great deal of dedication and skill to this ambitious undertaking; it is a definite standout on the Adelaide theatrical landscape.