Reviews West End & Central Published 23 September 2018

Review: Marathon at the Barbican

20 - 29 September 2018

WARNING: Hailey Bachrach writes on an unpredictable look at amnesia by young international collective JAMS.

Hailey Bachrach
Marathon at the Barbican

Marathon at the Barbican

Some content warnings for Marathon.

WARNING: There are on-stage pyrotechnics.

WARNING: There are flashing lights and sudden loud noises.

WARNING: There are these plastic sheets, like those silver bag things that runners use that crinkle really loudly in a manner some may find irritating.

WARNING: There is smoke. A lot of smoke. Smoke fills the theatre, and it’s not natural woodsmoke, obviously, but it’s that chalky fireworks smoke that tastes sparky and powdery. It lingers.

WARNING: The listed run time is an underestimate.

WARNING: The Hammersmith and City line is delayed, you will sprint through the labyrinth that is the Barbican deep into a brutalist bowel you didn’t even know was there precisely two minutes before the play begins. The theatre will feel swelteringly hot, but gradually you’ll realize that it’s just you.

WARNING: This may be a theme of the night. That it’s not them, it’s you.

WARNING: This is the kind of show where you’ll look upstage at one point and someone has their head in a bucket.

WARNING: You may begin having flashbacks to productions in black boxes and basement at uni. And you feel embarrassed and old, and embarrassed that you feel old and old for feeling embarrassed.

WARNING: Your laughter may be out of synch with other audience members.

WARNING: You may be the kind of person who gets impatient when friends meander through anecdotes without getting to the point; you may hate when people narrate their dreams; you may find nothing more annoying than a group of people standing around arguing over an event none of them can quite remember as they enjoin you to help and you just want to say, none of us can remember, we’ll never know which of us is right, oh my god just let it go

WARNING: If you feel this way, Marathon, which is predominantly an act of trying to remember something forgotten, might be a special kind of hell.

WARNING: You may begin to feel churlish and ungenerous for feeling this way.

WARNING: You may feel like a bad theatregoer.

WARNING: You may feel like a bad theatre critic.

WARNING: You may feel like a bad person.

WARNING: There’s a really repetitive song that will get stuck in your head.

WARNING: You will just have to sit in the performance. You cannot be waiting for something to happen. Audience members in an anxious and agitated mood should approach with caution. You cannot anticipate, you cannot look forward. Be. You just have to be.

WARNING: You may not be good at that.

WARNING: You may feel like a bad—

WARNING: You may be in the mood to have something weird rip you open and gut you a little bit. To scour you with its rough edges, to do something startling and uncomfortable and unexpected.

WARNING: This will not happen.

WARNING: Maybe this happened and you missed it?

WARNING: Maybe it happened when you were distracted by the smoke.

WARNING: Maybe you never actually knew the story of the first marathon.

WARNING: Every time you laugh or find an exchange compelling, you may wonder if that means you need to change your mind about the whole thing entirely.

WARNING: The Hammersmith and City line will still be fucked when you leave.

Marathon is on until 29 September 2018 at the Barbican. Click here for more details. 

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Hailey Bachrach is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Marathon at the Barbican Show Info


Directed by Alan Fielden

Written by Alan Fielden with JAMS

Cast includes Alan Fielden, Sophie Grodin, Malachy Orozco, Jemima Yong

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