REVIEW: Swallow, Traverse Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Swallow Traverse Theatre

Traverse Theatre
Four stars

In plays such as the hard-hitting Olivier Award winner Roadkill, young Scottish playwright Stef Smith says she charts the lightness and darkness of modern life. In Swallow, she explores loneliness and the struggle to connect through three women with their own separate desperate lives. Rebecca turns her anger and pain on herself after her partner leaves her for another woman, Samantha fights to assert her true identity as male Sam, and Anna hides away in her flat, seeking to fly above the real world by constructing her own reality in the safety of her domestic nest. As their lives start to overlap, we see them fitfully begin a journey to reconnect. The heart of the minimalist set by Fred Meller is a free-standing door that comes to reflect the barriers separating them from each other and the world outside. The three women are played brilliantly by Anita Vettesse, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Emily Wachter with a combination of dark humour and devastating pain that is at times deeply moving without slipping into sentimentality. This powerful production, sharply directed by Orla O’Loughlin, is a highlight of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and another demonstration of Smith’s skill at capturing the struggle and hope of everyday lives.

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