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Equations for a Moving Body review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘engaging and intelligent’

Hannah Nicklin in Equations for a Moving Body. Photo: Niall Coffey Hannah Nicklin in Equations for a Moving Body. Photo: Niall Coffey

Theatremaker Hannah Nicklin decided to do a Ironman event the year she turned 30. That’s the one where you swim two miles, cycle 100, and then top it off by running a marathon.

On one level, this piece is about Nicklin’s journey, psychological and physical, towards this milestone – that’s what she hoped it would be for her, a milestone in her life – but it’s also about endurance and strength and what happens to our minds and bodies when we test them in this way.

At times Equations for a Moving Body is reminiscent of Haruki Murakami’s book about marathon running, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Part of the Northern Stage progamme at Summerhall, Nicklin’s piece is also illustrative of how friendships and communities are built online, how we use apps and platforms to map our lives and achievements, to shape the stories we tell about ourselves and to ourselves.

Her performance style feels open and conversational, yet it is also measured. Numbers matter. Pacing matters, in every respect: miles, minutes, seconds. With just a laptop and a screen, she captures the drama of the Ironman event, the demands it makes on her body, the cold and the ache, while also constantly exploring why she wanted to do it, what it meant to her, and what it continues to mean.

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Engaging, intelligent and often unexpectedly moving piece on the psychology of endurance sport