It’s the end of the world. A great flood has swept all but four human beings into oblivion. Somehow, against the odds, four strangers manage to escape on a swan pedalo. At first the characters are fairly stereotyped: posho Steven; nerdy pessimist, Andy; spiritual nutter, Bobby; scarily competitive Clapham-type, Claire.
The distinctive characters allow the audience to quickly engage with the narrative: with no food left Steven begins to list all the food he misses- scallops featuring prominently. Bobby inclines towards meditation, believing that mind can overcome matter when it comes to hunger. Andy is a realist and has resigned himself to their fate: they’re all going to die. Claire is not going to give up. Full stop. Gleeful conflict ensues.
Amongst the bickering, a swan descends. We don’t see exactly what happens to the swan, but we do see the aftermath: imagine the scene in The Revenant when Leo DiCaprio eats that raw bison liver.
Post swan, the foursome decide that they must survive and they must leave a written record behind for posterity . What follows is an hiliarious indictment of C21st living and a satire on what Generation Y holds to be important. It also includes some excellent parodying of physical theatre (a la Complicite or Knee High).
It’s such a simple concept for a play, but the script is really tight and the delivery of the comic lines spot on. Praise must go to Ed MacArthur who channels most of the comedy through his character Steven; his bright stupidity and delayed responses create lots of laughter, particularly when he and Andy draw the audience into some of their New World rituals (I won’t ruin the surprise).
Final word: Comical new writing with a talented cast; this is a sure-fire hour of entertainment.
Swansong plays at Pleasance Courtyard 10-15 and 17-29 August at 17:00.
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