Hannah Ringham is dancing on her own. Spinning around the expansive, empty stage in red kitten heels. Arms pumping, she yells as each new tune starts “I love this one!” Every anthem is embraced as a favourite, even when they seem to be weird remixes– just a snatch enough to still be recognisable as a song. It is almost anti-theatre, frustrating and slippery to watch – and brilliant.
Die or Run is created by Ringham, one of the co-founders of Shunt, and Glean Neath who is part of the sensory, immersive theatre company Darkfield (Coma, Flight, Séance). So, it should come as no surprise that this show is purposefully bizarre. It’s a particularly eerie sort of weird. Ringham’s dancing and stream of consciousness narration are almost realist, but their extension and repetition over the hour twists the experience until it becomes uncanny and uncomfortable.
Ringham takes breaks to sit among the front row of the audience, all the while continuing to discuss her memories of the 1980s. Her recollections blur idealised reminiscing with Thatcherite politics. Her back-combed bouffant and power suit give the impression of a real ’80s power-bitch. Yet it is very clear that this woman is not in control.
Die or Run is both a frighteningly authentic representation of anxiety and a surreal trip that feels like sitting on the edge of a panic attack. It might be one of the weirdest nights at this year’s fringe, but it might also just be one of the best.