Swansong review at the Pleasance, Edinburgh – ‘pedalo tale that’s theatrically watertight’

Swansong at the Pleasance Courtyard. Photo: Milly Smith Swansong at the Pleasance Courtyard. Photo: Milly Smith

A post-apocalyptic vision of an original sort, DugOut Theatre’s Swansong finds its way from an almost comic premise to a convincing note of modest hope.

When the icecaps melt and the Earth is flooded, four people find themselves in the unlikely refuge of a swan-shaped pedalo in the middle of the sea. Inevitably they’re a disparate group: an amiably blokeish guy, a pessimistic intellectual, a sports and fitness fanatic, and a meditating new-age vegan.

They get past the personality clashes pretty quickly when they realise that, should they ever find land, they have the opportunity and obligation to create a new world, taking the best of the old and not repeating its mistakes.

They set out to create a somewhat idiosyncratic new world order, and the choices they decide on, and the choosing process itself, enjoyably make up much of the hour, while flash-forwards to an even more distant future in which their adventure becomes the basis for a new religion happily reassure us that all will be well, if just a bit silly.

The script by Sadie Spencer and Tom Black offers equal opportunities for gentle character comedy, social satire and serious moral debate, and the four performers – Ed Macarthur, Tom Black, Nina Shenkman and Charlotte Merriam – have fun with the stereotypes they’ve been given to work with while nicely individualising and rounding them out.

Tale of saving the world in a pedalo proves theatrically watertight