Review: It's Not a Sprint by NOVAE theatre

Marathons make blunt metaphors for life, in this show about millennial angst

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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It's Not A Sprint by NOVAE theatre. Image: William Simpson
Published 11 Aug 2018

Life is a long-distance race, old chum – at least, it is in Grace Chapman’s monologue about a millennial marathon runner striding through a quarter life crisis. Newly 30, Maddy’s seeing her 26.2 miles as a fresh start, but she’s paid more heed to her playlist than to her race plan. She pumps her fist: “I’m totally going to smash it.” She’s not.

That's no thanks to her running companion – her own nagging doubt. With a balloon bouncing unhelpfully behind her, Maddy finds pounding the pavement provides time to think. Her long-term boyfriend’s waiting at the finish with a sign and a ring, oblivious that she's seeing someone else, and all those late-twenties parties and late-night kebabs are catching up. Stitches kick in with a foghorn squeal, and her strained smile masks the pain burning within.

The problem is that marathons make blunt metaphors for life and, in looking to the milestones coming up—marriage, motherhood, mental decay—Chapman’s script tends to get stuck in cliché. With a string of temp jobs behind her, no hope of owning a house and fears about fertility in the mix, Maddy’s less an individual than an amalgam of millennial angst.

Jogging on the spot, working up a sweat, Chapman pushes a likeable performance to the max, but the race structure makes it all entirely predictable. As soon as the starting gun goes off, you’re waiting for the breakdown 20 miles in and, even at an hour, It’s Not a Sprint starts to test your endurance.