Wild Swimming (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Wild Swimming

Two fisted feminist theatre

Spanning over four hundred years of British history, from the Elizabethan age to the twentieth century, Wild Swimming is a cheeky look at the emancipation of women, taking in swimming the Hellespont, poetic ambitions and masculine anxiety, all delivered through the witty and fierce banter of a single couple.

The increasing freedom of women throughout this span becomes both the subject of rancour and enthusiasm: Oscar and Nell banter, try to disrupt the time stream and face up to social change with snacks and ready humour. Fast paced and ferocious, their relationship examines how the rise of female freedom has had its discontents, and slyly looks at the role of poetry, and heroic ideals, have changed beneath its triumphs.

The rough and ready dramaturgy allows Alice Lamb and Annabel Baldwin to play with the dialogue, anachronistic expressions lending their arguments florid colour and immediacy. Marke Horn's script manages to cover the way that gender roles have changed, mock masculine arrogance and rescue Nell from her Elizabethan constrictions, making trenchant comments without dropping the comedy. Even Oscar's final outburst, which mistakes female emancipation for the oppression of men in classic MRA style, combines compassion and humour to attack the salient features of backlash culture.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 12.45pm, £10 (£8)

Wild Swimming

  • 4 stars

FullRogue / Pleasance / Bristol Old Vic Ferment Wild Swimming: a brief and benighted history. Nell and Oscar meet on a deserted beach in Dorset. It's 1595… or maybe it's 1610. Oscar has returned from his first term at university and Nell is doing f*ck all. They will meet here, again and again, on this beach… for the next…