Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: How to Run Away, Hot Trip Theatre, Bloomsbury Festival 2023 ★★☆☆☆

Condoms, belly dancing, and good old British guilt are the three words to describe Lucy Andrina’s How to Run Away. However, as the performance goes on, we see a deeper edge to Andrina’s life in Cairo and an inspiring ending found through a love of belly dancing.

There are many good things about Andrina’s show, but unfortunately, it is not the show which makes it good. It’s more down to Andrina’s personality and true desire to please the unsuspecting audience. The stories which she tells us, whether fact or fiction, seemed genuine and heartfelt and I could feel Andrina’s eagerness to tell them to us. However, the eagerness also brought a rushed, and haphazard quality both to the performance and the writing.

Before we see Andrina grace the stage, a projector flips through a ‘diary’ depicting Andrina’s time abroad alongside, what I can assume, is a song written and sung by Andrina. Honestly, I could have done without. It didn’t add much to the show and felt a bit too long, I didn’t understand the stylistic choice behind it at all. When the show finally cracks on, the projector itself feels like a character. Often Andrina would pause her performance to show us videos, again, I could have done without it. At times it felt like a friend showing you their holiday pictures- no matter how much you love your friend, it’s hard to care after a while.

Between the projector videos, Andrina would share stories about her decision to leave Britain (Brexit, heartbreak, etc.) and her ‘rules’ for living abroad. These stories were generally entertaining. However, I felt that in the first half of the show, most of the stories felt rushed and half-told. I kept thinking I missed the ending but Andrina moved on from story to story quicker than light. Certain tableaus were genuinely intriguing but also so unfinished. Such as Andrina playing a game of ‘guess who was a British spy’ or when she showed us (on that projector) a picture of her bashed in lock. I felt like heckling ‘what happened?’. Still, as I write I feel like asking ‘how does it end? Tell me!’

As the plot- and I use the term loosely here- moves on the story does develop and this is down to the passion Andrina feels for her belly dancing. She takes us through her journey of learning to dance and her attempts to do it professionally. As well as touching on some heartbreaking setbacks like experiencing sexual assault and Endometriosis. This section of the show had surprising depth and joy and I felt my heart break for Andrina whilst hearing her re-tell how life got in her way. This was the true heart of the show.

Of course, I have to mention the best part of the show: Andrina’s dancing. She ended the show with two belly dances which were ah-ma-zing. There is no denying that Lucy Andrina is an incredible belly dancer and I couldn’t help but feeling this should have been the whole show.

Ultimately, How to Run Away felt very much like a work in progress with potential. I think Andrina could benefit from having an external scriptwriter and director work through the show with her. The bones are there but it needs to be tightened up. Aside from the belly dancing, and a few off-script quips Andrina’s performance was lacking. Which can be improved with more time in the rehearsing room. Yet, I can’t help but feel a soft spot for this show, Andrina showed a true authenticity which was infectious.

Recommended Drink: I think a shot of sambuca is the way to go here, it encompasses the emotions I felt well, disorientation, distaste, aniseed and a conflicting desire for a little bit more.

Performances of How to Run Away have now concluded, but you can keep up with Lucy Andrina to see what she does next.

Aditi Mohan

Our Race, Ethnicity & Culture Editor & London Editor. Obsessed with the Postcolonial world. Aditi likes to look at how theatre and comedy reflects today’s world of multiplicity. She’s keen to watch any kind of theatre or performance but comedy is her go to, because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

Festivals: Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Bloomsbury Festival (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her