Vault review: The Long Run

Although I have interviewed Katie Arnstein in the past, this is my first time seeing one of her shows, and I can’t recommend The Long Run enough.

When Katie’s mum gets diagnosed with bowel cancer, family life becomes an intense flow of radiotherapy and chemotherapy appointments for mum, and long waits in the ‘carers’ corridor’ for Katie.

Can you find comedy in cancer? It turns out that with sharp observational writing and a strong connection with the audience, you most certainly can.

Production shot from The Long Run

Surrounded by socially distanced friends and relatives also waiting for their ‘people’ to get to ring the end-of-treatment bell, Katie has to deal with her worry, anger, and grief at why cancer found her mum.

One character looms large, an elderly man who runs along the hospital corridors, ‘the spirit of Mo Farah in the body of Tom Waits’.

It turns out that George’s own story as he heads towards his own Long Run, the London Marathon, gives Katie a purpose to time his runs and cheer him on.

Production photo from The Long Run

Against a chalked out map of mile stops around London, the Pit venue is a place where Katie can explore and magnify her story and those around her.

Bec Martin, in her directoral debut at Vault, stages proceedings with confidence, allowing the hilarious (a build-up to a stonking fart gag) and the touching (the exploration of loss in an ageing gay marriage) to catch with equal force.

A stunning piece of theatre that deserves a Long Run elsewhere, this closes at the Vault Festival tonight, with tickets available here.