Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (2012)

Presented by Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal

Working with patron Roy Williams, award winning company Pilot Theatre brought this searing text of class and the criminal justice system to the stage. The stunning new production, set in Britain’s Olympic Year 2012, exposed the beating heart of a nation, still broken and still divided across class lines.

A long distance race in real time. We follow one runner, alone with his thoughts, becoming part of his journey as his steady running rhythm transports him over a harsh, frost bitten earth. Colin Smith is defiant. He is a young rebel inhabiting the no man’s land of detention centres and young offenders institutes.

Why, for whom, and for what is he running?

Adapted by BAFTA winning and Olivier Award nominated playwright Roy Williams (Sucker Punch, Fallout, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads), this gritty adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s classic text hits the ground running; unlocking the biting realism of the original book while placing the drama firmly in a contemporary frame.


…this is a brainy as well as a brawny performance, as far removed from Tom Courtenay’s in the 1962 film as one could conceive – we’re hearing here from the voice of alienated black London youth – yet imbued with the qualities that made Courtenay’s troublemaker so sympathetic: surly defiance, sly humour and much below-the-surface vulnerability.” The Telegraph

Flawlessly directed by Marcus Romer and stylishly designed by Lydia Denno, the discussions this show will provoke will run and run.” The Observer

Certain performances are destined for a long run, though few are likely to run quite this far. At the heart of this Pilot Theatre production, Elliot Barnes-Worrell not only puts in an aggressively charismatic performance as Alan Sillitoe’s antisocial athlete, he spends much of the evening pounding away on a treadmill. A conservative estimate is that he covers around 4km per show.” Alfred Hickling

The Guardian ****

The Independent Review ****

Roy Williams’s remarkable updated adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner at Nottingham Playhouse is full of nuanced politics.” The Telegraph

Education Resource

The production was accompanied by an educational resource for teachers and students studying The Loneliness of the Long DIstance Runner.

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Education Pack PDF

Cast and Creatives

  • Alix Ross


  • Curtis Cole


  • Dominic Gately


  • Doreene Blackstock


  • Elliot Barnes-Worrell

    Colin Smith

  • Jack McMullen


  • Luke James

    Gunthorpe / Guard

  • Richard Pepple


  • Savannah Gordon-Liburd


  • Sean Sagar



Written by Alan Stilltoe

Adapted for the stage by Roy Williams

Directed by Marcus Romer

Designed by Lydia Denno

Lighting Designed by Mark Beasley

AV Design by Lydia Denno & Mark Beasley

Soundscape by Sandy Nuttgens

Staff Director – Tom Bellerby