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Edinburgh review: Swansong (Pleasance Theatre)

A show about the end of the world as we know it from DugOut Theatre

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

It's the end of the world as we know it. A flood has finally engulfed the human race and what's left of it are four young people on a swan-headed pedalo, whose energy bars have just run out.

How they happen to have got there, we never find out, but in DugOut Theatre's playful look at society and our destructive force within it, it doesn't matter. What matters is how Claire (the competitive one), Stephen (the posh one), Bobby (the hippy one), and Adam (the brainy one) work together post-flood. First they argue, then, fired up on meat after devouring a lone swan that has the misfortune to swim past them, they begin to write stuff down in Bobby's diary. They list the things they love and miss, alongside all the things that were bad about the world pre-flood.

Yes, the four characters in Tom Black and Sadie Spencer's piece aren't the most original inventions: there's not a huge amount of nuance between the four of them. But Black and Spencer's script still impresses: hidden beneath the sharp one-liners and warm-hearted gags are moments that remind a little of the Almeida's controversial Mr Burns. The piece considers a future where society has developed from the mad scribblings of the four on the boat. It looks at the idea of myths and legends and the power of stories.

Don't get me wrong, this show doesn't purport to be much other than an entertaining Fringe hour, but it's an hour that will make you think and laugh. George Chilcott's direction is smooth and the cast are very strong. Swansong is about the end of the world, but it's also about hope, about working together and the power to change.

Swansong runs at the Pleasance Theatre at 5pm until 29 August (not 16).

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