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Run the Beast Down review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘breathless, trippy, riveting’

Ben Aldridge in Run the Beast Down at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Billy Rickards

Run the Beast Down, the debut play from writer, director and musician Titas Halder, is a bewildering, kaleidoscopic tale of an impressionable young man gradually losing his sanity, realised with compelling intensity by director Hannah Price and sole star Ben Aldridge.

How to determine what’s real and what’s not? Hipster-ish Charlie (Aldridge) has lost his hedonistic, high-pressure job in the City and his girlfriend has left him to rot in his redeveloped council flat. Beyond that, though, Halder has crafted a febrile landscape of twisted memories and lurid, threatening hallucinations.

Charlie becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator as he retreats into a lawless world of butchered cats, antagonistic neighbours, urban decay and revengeful city wildlife. Forget Dances With Wolves, this is Brawling with Urban Foxes. And it’s laced with a surprisingly gentle, lightly satirical humour.

Price, together with designer Anthony Lamble, lighting designers Rob Mills and Robbie Butler, and a host of sound designers and DJs, has composed a dazzling symphony of shifting colours, flashing strobes and an insistent soundscape of modish electronics. Aldridge is superb, walking the tightrope between sympathy and surreality for 90 breathless minutes.

Is Run the Beast Down a parable about the damaging effects of high finance’s corrosive employment culture? Or is Halder drawing a disturbing parallel between scavenging urban wildlife and the most vulnerable in society? Or is it simply a trippy story about a guy who talks to foxes? Who knows? But it’s riveting nonetheless.

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Verdict
A breathless, bewildering story of financial corruption, insomnia and urban foxes

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