Binge Culture take a physical fitness test and makes a show out of it. Upstairs at Thistle Hall there are inspirational messages sticky-taped to the wall. GIVE IT A GO. TRIUMPH. We are welcomed into the room by Simon and Izzy – the runners. Some of us are coerced into sticking up further messages. U ARE CAPABLE. Others start a warm-up stretching routine. Two women are invited to make sandwiches. The agenda for the evening is projected onto the wall. A man in a disposable white boilersuit points to one of the words– “Welcome.”

After a brief and bumbling pep talk, a surprisingly large group of people volunteer to do the beep test. Simon says “I can’t do this alone. We can do this together.” Initially the group is giggly. As the intervals get shorter, the runners are more focused. We are a quiet audience, concentrating on the people running. As each one drops out we applaud loudly then drop back into our silent head turning. To the door. To the window. To the door. To the window. One guy whips his shirt off. We cheer. To the door. To the window. Eventually only Simon and audience member Michael are left. Simon says “A full beep test can last for half an hour.” Michael says “That’s okay.”

They don’t take the full test.

Your experience of the show will be different. Binge Culture work with audience participation so while the structure remains the same, the experience will differ depending on who is in the room. Some of the sections in the agenda weren’t as successful as others. The content made it feel as though they were only there to provide one connection point for the next item without any ideas layered underneath. However, I was fully invested in the task the performers had set themselves at the beginning and the end of the show. It’s a fascinating look at what people will do – how they’ll help, how often they’ll help, what they’re willing to do, what they won’t do, what they think they’re allowed to do and when they think they’re allowed to do it. (Kudos to three young men in the audience the night I was there. They were all over the place – running, writing, eating…)

  • Beep Test by Binge Culture, on at Thistle Hall, 8,9 March 2013