Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Run the Beast Down

Titas Halder
Finborough Theatre, Earl’s Court

Ben Aldridge Credit: Billy Rickards
Ben Aldridge and Chris Bartholomew Credit: Billy Rickards
Chris Bartholomew Credit: Billy Rickards

What might have sounded like an obscure monologue about the joys of being a British Master of the Universe was given a much-needed boost by director Hannah Price and performer Ben Aldridge along with DJ Chris Bartholomew and their support team.

The text relates the sad tale of city slicker Charlie. As the 90-minute solo opens, he suffers double defeat. Having lost his job, Charlie returns to find his home not so much burgled as vacated—by his now ex, Alex.

The story then circles around to fill in some gaps and drift around in distinctly odd directions, possibly entirely fuelled by artificial intoxicants to the extent that the whole performance might be a drunken night club dream.

We hear a little about the city wide boys and their bad behaviour, some tales of the neighbourhood where our not particularly likeable hero lives but mostly follow Charlie's descent from grace.

Increasingly, the plot brings in wildlife and the bloody deaths of beasts of the field, starting with the gory demise of Peter, a cat that it is hinted might have inherited the soul of its owner’s late husband.

The killings are largely attributed to the brave urban foxes, who have long ago lost their native fear of mankind and are reputedly not above murdering the odd child. Charlie's increasing identification with his foxy friends (the "r" in the last word perhaps being optional) might take on deeper significance or merely lead to questions about his mental health as life spins dizzyingly out of his control.

Ben Aldridge’s delivery starts out at a calm leisurely stroll, gradually revving up through the gears to hit top speed as the drama moves towards a cathartic, not entirely transparent climax.

The energy and good humour of Aldridge, along with inventive directing in an Anthony Lamble-designed disco atmosphere help to entertain, as viewers are obliged to work hard to discern the meanings underlying what might be a drunken nightmare, an eco-allegory or merely a wry look at voracious capitalism on its last legs.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher