Hannah Nicklin began her performance by sitting at her laptop playing songs on Bandcamp. She opened tabs of various bands including Martha; straight away I thought this is a good start, predicting that good opening music would lead to a great show. Nicklin commented that we were the quietest audience she had seen so far during this opening, and that playing the music was in fact not part of the show; but most of the bands were friends of hers, and if we wanted to hear more of them we could ask at the end. It seemed, however, that this introduction did connect with the show, as it demonstrated Nicklin’s thoughtfulness and immediately showed how much she values her friends, a theme that would continue throughout the performance.
Equations for a Moving Body is the story of a milestone in Nicklin’s life, completing the Iron Man – Outlaw Triathlon; a 2.4m swim – 112m bike – 26.2m run. Nicklin explained how she wasn’t sure if marriage was for her and didn’t know if she wanted to have kids, but she did want to create her own milestone. At the age of 28 she decided to complete the Iron Man in the year she turned 30.
It was interesting to learn about the psychological endurance that Nicklin went through as well as the physical in her completion of the Iron Man. She found that being alone with her thoughts for so many hours was another challenge in itself. To overcome this she played games, such as trying to go through songs that she knew all the words to. I was amused to discover that the only song she knew every single word to was ‘Hands Down’ by Dashboard Confessional, a song that I also definitely played way too many times when I was about 14.
I was touched by Nicklin’s descriptions of her friends and training partners. She spoke about the solidarity of sport and training with other people, how people always look out for one another or check in. Nicklin described encounters with people she met running in the Iron Man, a guy with a rubber face who pulled different facial expressions every time he met a new challenge, and Elliott, (with two t’s) a primary school teacher. The little, yet significant, details about each person she described shows the care that went into writing this piece.
The most poignant moment in the piece was hearing about Nicklin’s friendship with John Lamb. Lamb took Nicklin running in Loughborough, and kept pushing her to go faster until they collapsed back at her house and downed orange squash after their endurance was pushed to the limit. The audience fell into complete silence when she brought up an article describing John Lamb’s death in a snowboarding accident. Nicklin worked out the speed at which he would have fallen and set a timer: 15 seconds. As the seconds ticked down I nearly cried. I was struck by the honesty of Nicklin’s performance. Equations for a Moving Body was heartfelt, funny, sad, and inspiring. The final performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is tomorrow at 11am. I highly recommend booking tickets right now.