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At Swim Two Boys

Published Friday 20 May 2005 at 11:05 by Pru Farrier

Based on Jamie O’Neill’s award-winning novel, this dance version of the relationship between two teenage boys at the time of the Easter Rising in Ireland is a powerful piece of theatre which embraces movement, music and visual imagery.

All three of these elements are symbolised by the wall of water which drips constantly, gradually filling the shallow trough of a stage in which the dancers meet and fulfil their destiny. Its steady sound is both harmonising and disturbing as the story progresses.

Physically well-matched in stature and looks, Terry Michael and Cai Tomos are like two sides of the same being. Their early movements are synchronised, slow and measured. They disport themselves in concert, with bodies leaning in to one another, regular and repeated motifs mirroring aspects of each other.

Stills and old film sequences are projected on to the backdrop, as well as shots of the dancers in other settings, placing them within the wider context of a conflict into which they are inevitably drawn, as they wrestle in a semi-playful rivalry that foreshadows their fate as victims of political events. The image of a gunman intrudes in the idyll and Roger Mills’ music changes from the carefree and lyrical to insistent drumbeat and military march, while recorded voices express the divisions of the era.

Separated from the other, each dancer expresses angular and anguished movements.

Together again in the sea, there is drama before sunset shots of their bodies are reflected in the water, beautiful but blood red. A stunning concept all round.

Production information

Arts Centre, Darlington, May 10-11, then touring until June 18

Jim Ennis, Jessica Cohen
Terry Michael, Cai Tomos
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014