Friday, 13 September 2019

Wild Swimming, Bristol Old Vic

When I come to write reviews I am very rarely lost for words, and yet with Wednesday night's performance of 'Wild Swimming' I find it strangely difficult to begin. Without a doubt it was one of the wittiest and most thought-provoking pieces of theatre I have had the pleasure of viewing in the last year, and I feel that to fully express just how highly I regarded FullRogue's production would be almost impossible.

'Wild Swimming' follows characters Oscar and Nell through various summers in their life, as they learn more about themselves and the various societies in which they live. Since 'time is flexible within theatre' each summer is set in a different time era, beginning in the sixteenth-century and concluding with modern day. During the summers they spend together Oscar and Nell explore the changing roles of men and women, using 'swimming' as a metaphor that runs throughout. During the 16th Century Oscar leads the conversation, excitedly discussing the things he has learnt whilst at university, Nell on the other hand has been left behind. Over the subsequent summers, Oscar comes back expecting Nell to have done nothing, and whilst this is true during the Victorian era, following the great war things have changed and Nell has become the great poet Oscar aspired to be in his youth.

Director and writer, Julia Head and Marek Horn respectively, worked seamlessly together to create a performance that displayed the progression of society to a time in which men and women can work alongside one another in order to achieve great things. They showed that ultimately in order to succeed, we should not 'drown' one another but look to one another for support. Additionally, the laid back manner of acting and the fluid transitions between rehearsed and improvised created an environment that allowed the audience to take a step back from the performance and consider for themselves the message that was being put across. The humour interwoven throughout 'Wild Swimming' added to the general success of the performance, and kept the production light-hearted and fun.

In addition, Alice Lamb (Nell) and Annabel Baldwin (Oscar) created characters that were emotive and varied, and in the words of Alice Lamb I was both 'impressed and shocked' at the talent, wit and energy which they both brought to the performance. If you get the opportunity 'Wild Swimming' is a performance well worth watching - I guarantee you will be left laughing.