Edinburgh Fringe 2014
"A call from home sends Vickie Tanner on a whirlwind tour of her life proving that wherever you go, there you are. This extraordinary, true and audacious performance is a riveting portrait of the writer’s escape from the drug and prison culture of her urban American neighborhood and offers shocking insight into the minds of young people. One of five solo plays selected for the inaugural A Series of One festival at La Mama in NYC, it’s the best kind of story: one you think you can predict, but can’t."
Why do we go to the Fringe? Why do we sit through any theatre? For me the answer is storytelling. My Gran used to read us tales of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. My parents took me to the Unicorn Theatre (back in the Great Newport Street days). Ever since I’ve loved stories and the people who tell them best.
Vickie Tanner discovered storytelling watching classic movies. She founder herself looking into a world of swarve, self-confident sophistication, of Cary Grants and Katharine Hepburns (especially Katharine Hepburns). They were a point of light, signposting an exit from the shadowy urban tangle of drugs and prison into which she had been born. Growing up Tanner watched the men in her life skim (and sucum to) the perils of existence on the margins of American society. Running Into Me is the story of her own escape.
Don’t expect self-pity. Don’t expect the whining, self-indulgence of the stand-ups you wish would just sit down. Don’t expect self-congratulation either. Given how personal is the tale being told by Tanner, her lack of editorial bias in the telling is a super-human feat of self-restraint. Beneath very real emotion, extraordinary passion, and no small amount of theatrical craft, is a cold, hard, steely determination to tell it right.
We follow Tanner’s narrative arc from one parent to another, from one school to another, from one coast to another, from one job to another, from one crisis point to another. Each is expressed through a tightly choreographed fluidity of movement. The charge builds steadily, a couple of technical SNAFUs are jumped like hurdles between a fat boy and his pie.
As much as Running Into Me is about Tanner herself, it is also a weave of other people’s stories interlaced with her own. The central character doesn’t always emerge as the heroine. In fact there are several times I’d like to boo the mean and nasty villain. I don’t. Tanner could knock seven bells out me.
It’s a story about the tragedy of triumph. Of overcoming obstacles only to turn and see love ones less fortunate, left bruised and battered by the wayside. “The saddest thing next to a battle lost…” as the Duke of Wellington once remarked.
If you are at this Fringe, as I am, to hear well spun yarns, expertly tailored and worn well without being well worn, Running Into Me is about the smartest thing you can do.