Equations for A Moving Body (3 stars)

Hannah Nicklin's emotional show on endurance sport

Equations for A Moving Body

credit: Niall Coffey

There are so many ways that human beings can push themselves to the absolute limit. Hannah Nicklin is perhaps more aware of this than most. A star swimmer from the age of four, she was on holiday as a 12-year-old when she severely injured both her wrists. Undeterred, she vowed to compete in the Ironman Championships as an adult, and did so: a gruelling triathlon of swimming 2.4 miles, running a marathon and cycling 112 miles.

An engaging and self-deprecating storyteller, Nicklin's warm and intimate show is beautifully written, brimming with insights into sports technique, nutrition, and how the human brain responds to physical pain and positive affirmation alike. The language she uses is intriguing – mountains are 'attacked', and her monologue becomes frenzied, like a commentator. She shows an incredible clip of Sian Welch and Wendy Ingram, who in 1997 were respectively in 4th and 5th place in a marathon run in the Ironman triathlon. Broken, Welch drops, then gets up, drops, and gets up again, until Ingram crawls ahead of her like a toddler to the finish line, only marginally beating her.

What is less clear, however, are Nicklin's own motivations – how she managed to overcome such obstacles, and even how she got into sports in the first place. Who initially inspired her to get into swimming? More background would have rounded off her own narrative. Ultimately, it's less theatre production than performance lecture, but it is a compelling and life-affirming testimony to the human spirit.

Northern Stage at Summerhall, until 27 Aug (not 10, 17, 24) 11am, £11 (£9).

Equations for a Moving Body

  • 3 stars

Hannah Nicklin A story about the physiology of endurance – when our brains tell our bodies to stop – and the psychology of continuing. A story about preparing mind and body for a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles cycling, then running a marathon. About the people who share that journey with us: family, coaches, friends…


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