Free Run (2 stars)

This article is from 2011.

Free Run

Heavily padded parkour spectacle

The warning that diffuses through the auditorium is ominous. ‘What you are about to see is not restricted to the stage’. Sure enough, this is one of those Fringe shows where you’re definitely not safer in the back row. Within moments of the house lights going down the performers are clambering along the railings, scaling walls and leaping up and down stairs the length and breadth of the Udderbelly.

The first point to make is that the team of urban acrobats who take centre stage in this show are undoubtedly highly skilled at what they do: we can gauge that from the short routines performed here and from the big screen at the back of the stage, which show scenes of them tumbling, climbing and jumping between buildings on London’s South Bank. Yet, despite the fact that parkour is often practiced in gyms, there’s something a little unsatisfactory about seeing free running along railings indoors and over a few inoffensive obstacles rather than out in the wilds of the city. Moreover, the show itself feels somewhat thin, a few truly enjoyable sequences padded out with filmed footage that seems inspired by anti-perspirant or trainers adverts, while the performers simply wander the stage emoting. There’s also a bizarre cops and robbers segment that ups the show’s camp quotient a few notches with its gratuitous display of smooth chests and the wearing of arm stockings.

All is forgiven in the last ten minutes, when the audience finally comes alive, clapping and whooping to some highly impressive feats of strength and skill and daring, with each of the team given their moment to shine. It’s just a pity that this sense of excitement didn’t extend to the full hour.

Udderbelly’s Pasture, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug (not 16, 22), 6.20pm, £15—£17 (£13.50—£15.50).

Free Run

  • 2 stars

29 million YouTube views, 15 Guinness World Records, 1 live show. For the first time the explosive action of free running, one of the world's most exciting and dangerous extreme sports, is transformed into a live stage show. Incredible athletic performers take on jaw dropping parkour, stunts and martial arts close up…

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