Run/Don’t Run – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

First Published March 2013


Writer: Gary Duggan

Director: Aoife Spillane-Hinks

Run / Don’t Run is the latest offering from successful Irish playwright and screenwriter Gary Duggan. This pacy, well timed performance was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght and this March has made its way to central Dublin’s Project Arts Centre. Having toured Ireland here is a rare opportunity to view a polished performance from a successful Irish writer during its first run.

The location is Spanish Harlem 1999. It is the tail end of the dance scene and New York is buzzing, helped in no small part by the pills and petty criminality that joins the Irish and the American branches of one family in a sense of shared understanding.

All of the action takes place in one flat shared by disintegrating couple; American Gene, played by Aonghus Óg McAnally and Dominican Perdita, played by Leah Minto. These two young, accomplished and experienced stage and screen actors seem to naturally fall into place and loving, but often warring, American couple – their accents as strong and easily definable as the twists and turns in their home life are compelling.

It is into this hot, steamy, uncomfortable setting that young Ballymun native Eoin stumbles. Played by Sean Doyle, he staggers into the play. Soaked in sweat with a back packers ruck sack weighing him down. When the audience discover that he is Gene’s distant cousin it quickly becomes obvious that he is hoping to stay. But Eoin is not travelling on a J1 summer work visa. He is on the run. We learn that he is in trouble but it is not until much further into the play that what he has left behind and all that he is running from, is revealed.

This theme, established in the title, is carried by all three characters. Their home seems more like a temporary place to stay where they each make their decision as to when to stop running and settle down.

Eoin’s north side accent stands out at first but he is quick to insinuate himself into the late 90s dance scene and becomes more familiar with the city than its long term inhabitants. The language and occasional violence is as strong as the heat that pushes down on the trio as they make their way through the sweltering summer. Eoin’s arrival triggers a change in fortunes, not necessarily for the better, as he interrupts his cousin’s life which had been hanging over the edge of implosion.

With Eoin’s insertion into their lives the action takes a surprising turn of events, forcing the characters to finally stop and decide whether they are able to begin new lives with a clean slate.

Run / Don’t Run is an immigrant story which captures the themes and motivations that regularly occur in ‘Generation Emigration’ stories and questions whether we are ever really able to out run our pasts. Placed into this thrilling love triangle their story is something that is easily recognisable and yet still manages to remain surprising.

With Run / Don’t Run the Project Arts Centre is continuing a strong run this year of showcasing new and innovate performances

Aged 16+ only

Photo by Jeda De Bri. Runs until the 14th of March.

Review Overview

The Public Reviews’ Score: 4*