Yesterday I was kindly invited by The Mercury Theatre in Colchester to see Run Rebel.
I opted to go to the matinee performance which I felt turned out to be a good decision as the atmosphere seemed more relaxed and informal. There were two schools in the auditorium which was a little distracting for me but in some scenes really added to the emotion of the performance with all of their reactions. This was highly welcomed and I felt was a nice change.
Run Rebel is produced by the same company that also put on the show Noughts & Crosses, which has seen numerous awards since. I was somewhat excited to see this after enjoying their previous show, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The show tells the story of Amber, a teenager who feels trapped on one side by her family and the expectations of her father and on the other by her love for running and her dream of one day representing her country. There is tension as her father feels she should give up on her dream and follow the traditions of the household but the love of running and the will to follow her dreams is too strong a siren’s call for Amber to resist. Within this show is a strong use of Amber’s mental health and also of her family life, with everyone scared of her father due to domestic violence.
But once Amber learns about the French Revolution in her history lesson, she encourages her family to revolt against her drunken father.
This is very much a welcome change for me, as these are subjects aren’t spoken about enough in todays modern world, especially by teenagers. It was great to see school children at this show, and I really hope they took something from it.
The cast were brilliant, I could really feel the emotions from all of them incredibly well. Jessica Kaur did a fantastic job playing the character of Amber, along with narrating the story to the audience. The chemistry behind all the cast was palpable, especially between Pushpinder Chani who played Amber’s father and Jessica Kaur as Amber. During their scenes together, I truly felt like they were indeed father and daughter. This really made me feel I was watching professionals at work!
On to the accessibility; the main issue was a strong use of harsh or minimal lighting. Most of the performance it was either one or the other, which on occasion made it very difficult to fully see what was happening. At times when Amber was talking to the audience she was lit by a spot light so she was easy to see but there were other scenes where the characters were washed out by the lights, so it was a little difficult to see. Also in a number of scenes especially when Amber was at home with her family, the stage would be very dark so I found it difficult to see what was happening.
As I was in row E this time, if I were to go and see the show again I would pick either row D or ideally C, as they are much closer so I would be able to see much more.
On the plus side however, the use of action scenes was low. Most were just some of the actors running up and down the stage or running on the spot, but with the spoken dialogue filling in the exposition. This is a great addition as then you really aren’t missing out on anything for about ninety percent of the show. The only scene you do miss out on is the more physical/fight scene towards the end as that isn’t really described in detail, but I feel like I can forgive them for that.
As a result, the story flowed really nicely and I was able to understand what was going on really well, and missed very little. My own tiny gripe is that I don’t think microphones were used during this performance? This would have been helpful in certain places, as I found that in some of the scenes I struggled to fully understand what some of the cast were saying. So maybe in future shows this is something that could be added?
There are no access shows unfortunately according the Mercury’s website. I would assume this is due to Run Rebel having a short run at The Mercury. However as this show is going on tour around the UK, hopefully if they have longer runs at other theatres this is something that can be added in the future.
Finally then overall, I feel it really doesn’t matter if you are a blind or visually impaired theatre-goer as I think you are going to get something out of this show, whether you are young or old. As I said, Run Rebel is touring so go grab yourselves a ticket!
I think this is an important production as there is so much merit in the huge amounts of discussion on mental health, as well as the scenes of domestic abuse and violence.
A ‘Content To Consider’ document has been created should you feel that the show may possibly be triggering for you so if you are interested and would like to know more, I will link it for you below.
Visit The Mercury Theatre’s website to find information on tickets and more!
Run Rebel is running at The Mercury Theatre from Thursday 2nd March until Saturday 4th March 2023, but is on tour at the follow dates and venues:
York Theatre Royal: 7th – 11th March
Derby Theatre: 14th – 18th March
Belgrade Theatre Coventry: 21st – 25th March
Alnwick Playhouse: 28th – 31st March
Until Next Time,
The VI Critic