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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Atlantic Stage 2 (see Off Broadway). By Roy Williams. Directed by Leah C. Gardiner. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner: In brief

A British juvenile delinquent with a gift for running is asked to compete on behalf of his despised prison school in Roy Williams's drama, adapted from Alan Sillitoe's famous 1959 short story. Leah C. Gardiner directs the American premiere.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner: Theater review by Raven Snook

Fans of Alan Sillitoe’s 1959 short story about the British class war as seen through the eyes of an athletic lad in juvie may wonder how the protagonist’s raging stream of consciousness could ever be translated to the stage. But Roy Williams’s sly adaptation opens up the action through flashbacks (much like the 1962 movie), sets the politically charged tale in contemporary England and recasts Colin Smith (a searing Sheldon Best) as black. Almost immediately you realize that even a half century later, little has changed for Angry Young Men.

Required to run, rant and emote for almost the entire play, Best gives one of the most physically demanding performances you may ever see. His Colin opts for rebellion as a kind of freedom, much to the chagrin of a manipulative administrator (Todd Weeks, excellent) who tries to exploit the boy’s talents. There’s pain and heartache, but the emotional journey’s worth it.—Theater review by Raven Snook

THE BOTTOM LINE: A classic tale runs an exciting new race.

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