Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Marathon"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark


by Edoardo Erba
English Translation by Israel Horowitz
Directed by Josiah A. George

Set Design by Charlie Morgan
Lighting Design by Jen Rock
Sound Design by David Remedios
Technical Director Lane Black
Assistant Technical Director Kelly O'Donoghue
Production Manager Dave Brown
Stage Manager Lauria Kincaid

Mario..........Mike Bash
Steve..........Ben Chase

This short, deceptively simple play is a classic example of the power of stage versus screen. Two young men meet one evening to make a practise run: their aim is to qualify for --- their dream to win --- the New York Marathon. After a few moments stretching and bantering they set out, talking as they run, and along the way they ring all the changes, examine running from every angle, from trivial to historical to metaphysical --- and all of it while running-in-place (with only a minite's rest midway) for almost an uninterrupted hour.

The characters are sharply different. One chides the other as a whiner setting himself up for failure. "I'm not over my cold," he complains, "Can't breathe through my nose; hope it's not the flu! Wait, did I lock the car? I don't have the keys! Did I lock them in the car? Jeez, we can't break the window to get at them it's my father's car!" They move on to speculating about, psychoanalyzing Phidippides who first ran to bring the news of the Greek vistory at Marathon and died of the effort, then on to "Do you think there's a God?" The pace changes, the runners pace one another sometimes "moving" straight ahead, sometimes turning left or right as the road curves. Ultimately --- almost in an etherial "second-wind" --- the friendly rivalry comes to climax as one runner falls behind and stops as the other jogs on, dogged, determined, steady. It is in this final moment that "Marathon" becomes a metaphor for life itself.

Mike Bash and Ben Chase, one taller and leaner than the other, are excellently matched in intensity and endurance; watching them, hearing them conversing in the midst of continuing effort, is exhilarating in itself --- all the more since it is Live. To film this short, pithy play would perhaps add background details. On the darkly shadowed Stoneham stage, however, the grit and determination of these two young actors adds to the impact of this amazing play.


"Marathon" (11 - 21 March)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide