Written by Stephanie Blakeborough
Directed by Michelle Taylor
Write Now Festival Liverpool
Sunday 1st April 2012

Reviewed by Sue Callaghan Murray

Write Now Festival’s first offering on Sunday was Swim by Stephanie Blakeborough who may be remembered for providing us with Mrs Bojangles at last year’s event. Billed as a black comedy there were certainly no offensive or painful sharp edges cutting through the curtains. Let’s face it, four people going away for a weekend in the country was hardly going to win any awards for original concept but I’m delighted to report that the performance was both exciting and a wonderful testament to observational humour. Full marks were also obtained for using a highly original method of playing-in the scene links. This often problematic dilemma was eliminated by an actual clarinet player displaying musical irony that even the late Les Dawson would have been proud of.

Andrew Welsh plays nervously obsessive Alan who bounces off highly aloof Simone (Christie Peto) while thirty something couple Carole (Sharon Heywood) and Dave (Mike Sanders) quickly add to the group tension and dynamic. Heywood as Carole portrays an extremely convincing drunk as the alcohol fuelled antics of Saturday night unfold and the surprises begin. There is theft where nothing actually gets stolen and full sexual portrayal utilizing only minimal discrete sexual content in a very cleverly designed and easily accessible plot. Ultimately Simone turns out to be not exactly what is written on her lid.

Swim gives an instant acquaintance with actors that will leave you reliving the highlights for some time to come. The direction and use of performance area are excellent and as well as having an inspiring cast Stephanie Blakeborough has crafted a truly memorable piece. I make no apology for coining the clichés “new writing at its best”, “genuinely funny” and “catch it while you can”. In my book it is a deserving potential contender for play of the festival.

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