Swan Bake

Thu 3rd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Kate Plummer

at 01:49 on 21st Aug 2017

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'Swan Bake' is about the lives of 3 people living in a Church. Kate Dolan plays Bell, a down on her luck ballet dancer addicted to the fictional drug, nonce. Her girlfriend, Maria, played by Shannon Giles is a self-described 'cool nun' who does not let religious teaching police her sexuality or drug use. Finally Alex Stevens completes the cast as the sociopathic villain of the play, Father Rupert who is in love with Maria and wants to blackmail the 2 girls to get more of their drugs. Clearly, the characters are by no means locked down by the traditional stereotypes that may befit their job descriptions.

With a premise as left of field as this, a well structured plot would have more than helped to centre it. However, the plot is very vague and progresses quite awkwardly and without direction, leaving the audience to fill in the script slightly which reminds me of when my English teacher's used to write “the reader is not a mind reader!” on my attempts at creative writing.

The humour is good though, if inappropriate and slightly dark humour appeals, as it does to me. The show is sufficiently self aware and tongue in cheek so as not to become overly- pretentious. This is despite a long and clichéd

monologue delivered by Father Rupert about the dangerous power of marketing and societal issues, and a long warning from Belle delivered to an imaginary ballet class about how life is going to get worse and worse until climate change kills us all.

In terms of the production, a trippy dance sequence in which Belle attempts to rehearse for an audition at the Royal Ballet School whilst high is quite effective. Well designed creepy puppets and balloons seem to appear from nowhere, voicing criticisms she has faced throughout her life, and her own self doubt. Eery music and flashing lights accompany thus scene which helps to build an insight into the mind on drugs. Generally, the puppets and props also helped to create an interesting aesthetic that made the play stand out more from it competitors at the Fringe.

Alex Steven as the very disturbed Father Rupert steals the show in terms of his acting ability. He captures the creepiness of the role with intense facial expressions and manic speech patterns which are very engaging and hard to turn away from. Making eye contact with me at one point, I was left feeling distinctively uncomfortable. As we left the theatre I could only agree with one disbelieving audience member who turned to her friend and said, “how did he manage to sweat so much on command?”

I'm still not entirely sure what it was about and what it was trying to say, if anything. What I do know is that it was fast paced and funny enough to keep me reasonably entertained on a chilly afternoon in Edinburgh, which ultimately is all you can ask for.

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