REVIEW: Swell, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe ✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Tom Foreman’s play Swell at Underbelly as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Swell Edinburgh Fringe

Underbelly, Edinburgh Festival
2 Stars
Book Tickets

In many ways, Swell embodies the spirit of the Fringe. Performed in the catacombs of Underbelly by three actors who multi-role, a single chair providing the whole set, and a young cast that performs with enthusiasm. Tom Foreman’s play has an interesting concept at the heart of it. Climate change and coastal erosion lead to a government decision to “decommission” an entire seaside town, and we follow the last residents as the tide wipes the landscape away.

Although I take nothing away from the passion of the argument, diction was a problem. All three actors dropped sentences and volume and often the pace of speaking was rushed. Rachel Nicholson was particularly guilty of this in the central role of Ava, even though she charted her despair very well as one of the few remaining residents. Max Beken was a little frenetic in his roles, and I think it’s a shame that Karan Maini, after a speech about suffering racism in the village, more or less disappears off stage. It would have been good for him to help with the multi-rolling as it became a little strained between two actors.

That said, there is no denying the commitment of the project. The production needs to find time to allow the play to breathe, to give a stronger sense of the impending tragedy.

Aug 15, 17-28

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