What happens to the runt of the litter? What is life like for the small, the weak, the unwanted and insignificant among us? There’s a potential cacophony of answers to these eternal questions, but in one hour, in a sparse independent theatre space, this one-woman play distils them so powerfully that the opening-night audience’s response was, appropriately enough, a minute’s silence.

fortyfivedownstairs Nicci Wilks in RUNT. Photo © Pier Carthew.

Returning after a sell-out premiere season earlier this year, RUNTencapsulates the experiences of a perpetually neglected and abused woman. Written by Patricia Cornelius, it’s directed by her frequent collaborator, Susie Dee, and performed by Nicci Wilks, who appeared in their hit of a few years ago, SHIT . All three are credited as co-creators, which is no doubt fundamental to this work’s cohesion and finely tuned details.

Presented in the round, within a very low, narrow circular catwalk, RUNTbegins with a dramatic, visceral thud as Wilks’ character emerges from the lone prop: a sack. She wails and reaches out like a baby. Her words, as if an audible inner monologue,...