What I Talk About When I Talk About Running @ ZOO Charteris

Enter the scrambled mind of Fredrik Høyer as he ran the Oslo half marathon, which he recreates by running on a treadmill and taking us on a hilarious non-sequitur but ultimately profound journey

Review by Jamie Dunn | 15 Aug 2018
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Despite what its title implies, running enthusiasts might not warm to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Fredrik Høyer is hardly the pastime’s biggest fan. Despite working in a specialist sports shop, he has utter disdain for the type of people who would buy expensive running glasses and shoes on his recommendations (he would routinely diagnose customers as having supination of the foot without quite knowing what he was talking about). And don’t get him started on those barefoot runners. Yet he finds himself among these sadists when his boss coerces him to take part in the Oslo half marathon.

Høyer’s show, riffing on Haruki Murakami’s ernest memoir of the same name, is a wonderfully quixotic affair, with Høyer performing most of it on a treadmill, his fluctuating heart rate projected on to a screen on the right of the stage. What he presents is the manic state of mind he had as he ran that Oslo race, for which he was embarrassingly underprepared.

The affable Norwegian has a knack for making his show seem similarly ill-conceived, pausing mid-speech to debate his choice of music bed and pretending to forget parts of his script while exhausted on the treadmill. He also proves himself the master of intentionally crap slides when getting sidetracked on the life of Mensen Ernst, a 19th century Norwegian running champ and pioneer of ridiculously epic ultramarathons.

As sweat flies from Høyer’s brow and saturates his T-shirt, his train of thought becomes increasingly scrambled. He has a long, hilariously pointless digression concerning Jude Law and Kate Winslet’s meet cute in terrible rom-com The Holiday and some faux-zen epiphany that running is basically like giving birth. The show may appear ramshackle but toward its end it becomes clear Høyer is in complete control of his material, with his phoney profundity turning to genuine pathos. This is a casually brilliant show from a deceptively talented performer.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, ZOO Charteris (Aviary), 2-26 Aug (not 15 & 20), £10-£9

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