This Show Will Make Your Heart Rate Rise: A Review of The Runner at the Grand Theatre

Let me preface this review by saying that The Runner is one of the best shows that I have seen at the Grand Theatre. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is the best show I’ve seen at the Grand Theatre. The show, written by Christopher Morris of Human Cargo and directed by Daniel Brooks, is brilliant in all aspects.

The Runner follows Jacob (Christopher Rand), an Orthodox Jewish man and a volunteer for ZAKA, in the heat of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jacob does not know where he is or what is happening to him, so he must recall the events leading up to his current situation. He begins by recounting the responsibilities of his job; one being gathering body parts from affected individuals after a bomb has detonated. Eventually, he recalls helping a Palestinian girl, an individual that his fellow volunteers had marked a terrorist. Jacob was chastised for giving the girl medical attention and that memory sparks a series of recollections, sending him into a spiral of internal conflict.

The show takes place on the McManus stage, a small, intimate space with general admission seating. When you enter the theatre for a performance of The Runner, you are greeted by a strip of treadmill that is elevated to waist height; the treadmill acts as the stage for the entirety of the performance. The use of a treadmill in a production is brilliant as a fast-moving treadmill with a fast runner is a natural sound effect. As the pace increases, the audience’s heart rate is sure to rise.