Theatre: Run | Commercial awareness on The Gateway

Theatre: Run

A brilliant dramatisation of an investment banking internship that's commercial awareness, entertainment and real human drama in one

Run

Engineer Theatre

Playing at New Diorama Theatre, London in November 2014 and touring to Yorkshire, Birmingham and Exeter in February 2015

Until now, you'd probably have to actually do an internship at an investment bank to find out what this experience is like. But see new play Run, an astonishingly accurate portrayal of the lives of young City workers from Engineer Theatre Collective currently playing in London and touring next February, and you can just sit back and observe instead.

Unsurprisingly given that Run was put together from extensive research including interviews with banking interns, it evokes their world of stapling, spreadsheets, ready meals and after-work drinks perfectly.

The play follows the experiences of four interns over a summer on a commodities trading desk and, while entirely fictional, draws on the circumstances surrounding the death of a mergers and acquisitions intern at an investment bank last summer.

Small details of set and costume are spot on: from carpet tiles and security passes to stripy socks and new suits. The personalities are recognisable City intern types too - studious girl, public schoolboy, awkward Englishman, ambitious foreigner, all studying subjects like maths and economics at Oxford, Cambridge or Warwick. Yet they're well-developed and nuanced personalities with satisfying stories that contain experiences familiar in City life: last-minute cancellations of social plans, fun in tacky bars, camaraderie, and occasional madness.

The dramatic potential of these kinds of situation is put to good use, and the play works well as theatre as well as social reportage, with particularly good use of movement to evoke different atmospheres and states of mind on a relatively sparse set.

There are some very funny moments, particularly a couple of scenes around struggles with Blackberries, but as the play continues it becomes darker - an ongoing ticking clock/heartbeat signifies a coming crisis.

One possible criticism of Run is that, especially as it gets towards its shocking ending, it perhaps doesn't give quite enough space to those things that people enjoy about City jobs other than the money - say, the excitement of the trading floor, or the bonds between colleagues.

But the play has a real value as it makes the not-often-made and important point that students who choose to work in the City today are usually not without social consciences or victims, but thoughtful and ambitious young people who knowingly choose to take their chances in a tough but potentially very rewarding world.

The best bit

The brilliantly-acted uber tough internship interview that opens the play and, in many ways, turns out to encapsulate it - you'll be praying your questions are nowhere near as tricky when you're next in the interview hot seat.

The worst bit

A pretty unexpected and not-very-pretty at all festival toilet anecdote. And that's probably as much as you want to hear about it.

Summary

A brilliant dramatisation of the highs and lows of life as an intern at an investment bank that's commercial awareness, entertainment and real human drama all in one.

The Gateway rating

5

Image: Sarah Beaton

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