Review: Wild Swimming (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

FullRogue’s show comes to the Edinburgh Fringe before a run in Bristol in September

Alice Lamb in Wild Swimming
Alice Lamb in Wild Swimming
© Chelsey Cliff

The piece follows Oscar and Nell, two bring young things who live in adjacent houses on the south coast. The period is somewhere between the end of the 16th century and the start of the 17th (the text keeps things deliberately ambiguous), Oscar is back from university and Nell, "like all women during the period, is on a permanent gap year". She also has a major penchant for swimming in the sea. The pair's chemistry is hard to miss, they bicker and banter, calling out rubbish sex or a lack of substantial endowment.

But time flickers forwards, Oscar and Nell start to slide through life just as the show slides through the centuries – one moment Marlowe is the talk of the town the next everyone is bleeting on about Byron. It's a juicy twist on a classic two-hander romcom, like a hybrid version of Orlando and When Harry Met Sally, with an extra dose of metatheatre fun. It's all coated with a whiff of inventive playfulness, especially as the periods slip away and the pair come to see each other sat on stage in the modern-day, two actors at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Annabel Baldwin and Alice Lamb are consistently great – making some salient points about their contrasting personalities (and gender roles), chucking around props and inviting audience members to help them change their costumes. From time to time the whole thing takes on an anarchic, solidly party-esque atmosphere, helped by Joseff Harris' technical support.

Some of Wild Swimming needs a fine-tune and structurally the early scenes, in the Renaissance and 19th century period, drag, meaning the ending, when the pair start breaking their own rules, feels a bit too hurried. An extra ten minutes would do all manner of good. Sometimes Baldwin's jokey fourth-wall-breaking asides are a wry embellishment, other times they're just too much of a distraction to sit well in the show.

Nevertheless, it's a safe bet to say that FullRogue is going to be a company doing a wad of great things going forwards, and are making a fun splash at the Fringe with this show.