Wild Swimming review at Beneath, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘confident comedic exploration of gender rights’
Wild Swimming is an anachronistic romp tackling history, gender politics and art.
With fourth-wall breaking, audience assistance and improvised elements, the work has the sensation of both a hurricane and its eye-swirling intentional chaos between scenes.
Then in the still moments we are yanked back into focus with skewering commentary on the historic shifts in privilege and power of cis white men and women. Yet, it delivers laughs throughout.
For 400 years, Oscar (Annabel Baldwin) and Nell (Alice Lamb) will return to meet on this Dorset beach, changing and not with the times.
While loosely dressed in period costumes, their smart, structured bickering is spoken in contemporary vernacular. They address heroism, bathing costumes, marriage, love and all the things that create distance between them as a man and woman.
Nell reframes the conversation each time, forcing Oscar to recognise imbalances in rights, autonomy and power. Oscar makes jibes about Nell’s money and idleness.
Eventually, there is an uncomfortable shift between them. The lighthearted gives way to something more bitter. With only an hour the evolving power dynamics are not deeply explored, but it’s a smart sweeping glance.
Sarcastic barbs, a puckish spirit and big ideas all merrily co-exist here.
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