SWIM (4 stars)

This article is from 2019


Moving tale of wild swimming, friendship and the undertow of grief

An immersive blend of videography, storytelling and music, SWIM tells the true story of Liz, Sam, Josie and Carmel, three theatremakers and a musician who come together to make a show about wild swimming. But it's also the story of Liz's friend and fellow wild swimmer, who remains an unseen presence throughout the show but whose grief over a tragic loss permeates throughout.

In less able hands, the complex meta-theatricality at work in SWIM could easily sink the show. Happily, the parallel stories are woven together with expert grace and tender storytelling, driven by naturalistic acting that is underpinned by the obvious chemistry between the four performers. Indeed, despite being a heart-wrenching study of loss at its core, it's this focus on the theatre-making process that allows the show's scope to expand, and to examine the light that hovers at grief's dark edges.

For there is also so much joy in SWIM; ecstatic moments of dance and whooping laughter, which remind of life's exquisite vibrancy, even in the face of death. Moreover, the live music interludes create gorgeous moments of suspended emotion, allowing audience members to be immersed within the intense feelings being explored on stage, but not overwhelmed by them. SWIM is a sensitive portrait of overwhelming grief, but also of love and friendship's ability to hold a person up in the deepest waters.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 13), £10–£12 (£9–£11).


  • 4 stars

Liz Richardson in association with the Pleasance and HOME There is this lake. And in the lake, there's a woman. She's swimming. She finds the pain is less, to remember him in the water. Liz took Sam and Josie swimming. She said they'd feel amazing. It was cold. It was really cold. Swim is a brand new show from theatre…