Fredrik Høyer’s piece evokes a wonderfully unconventional journey through his thoughts – for running enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike.
The stage is carefully cluttered with a projector, film screen, mechanical treadmill and lots of toys lined up along the back wall, all headed for a tiny archway marking a marathon finish. Høyer’s infectiously energetic manner and wry sense of humour drive a piece that is essentially the story of his experience running a half marathon. He works at a running shop in Oslo, where the manager includes running the race in the employees’ contract.
Having provided this background, he hops on his treadmill and starts running, beginning the meandering story of his thought processes through this 21km run. Along with the mental peaks and troughs he experienced along the way, he relays the strange realisations and memories that drifted through his head as he ran. He commits fantastically to his race retelling, sweating bountifully as he speaks and giving an explosively vigorous recount of the need to give up half way through. He gets off the treadmill for brief intervals to illustrate these thoughts, showing us the map of the route around Oslo, discussing the history of 19th-century ultra-marathon runner Mensen Ernst, and chats about what he saw around him as he ran – most memorably a group of runners with giant balloons attached to them.
Scroll through Facebook and you’ll be inundated with posts from various people about running races of various distances – so much so that half marathons no longer seem such a great undertaking. But what is so wonderful about this piece is that it triumphs in celebrating what to some people may seem small achievements. Høyer recounts the extreme sluggishness with which he finished the race but it’s clear how huge the accomplishment was on a personal level. This individuality is what makes What I Talk About so engaging as theatre – capturing the personal history and experience everyone has in abundance.