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Swallows

Henry Roberts
BoxedIn Theatre
Pleasance Pop-Up: Dynamic Earth
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Anger at the injustice of the world can sometimes find its expression in extreme behaviour, even occasionally terrorism. But then the same can be said of the actions of the corporations and governments that generate so much injustice.

Swallow depicts the extreme impulses of a group of environmental activists who are waiting pensively in a huge shipping container.

The young boy Tim (Issy Sheridan) tries to speak about the growing concentrations of microplastics in the oceans, but Ella (Sarah Chamberlain) doesn’t seem to be interested. Something is on her mind and a little later she explains she has had a terrible dream about the end of the world and a crushed baby, some of which can remind you of the horrors of the holocaust.

The mood takes a dangerous turn with the arrival of Harry (Daniel Jonusas). He is immediately confrontational, physically threatening and increasingly deranged in his arguments.

Much of his fury is directed at Tim, whom he orders to set fire to a nearby building (an unusual action for activists concerned about carbon emissions) knowing it will kill someone. He starts waving a dangerous weapon, praising Stalin for saving trees and suddenly breaks into a Nazi-style delivery of German.

When unknown people outside the small “greenhouse” performance space start to bang the external walls (I have no idea why) the three activists for no obvious reasons begin to fight and kill each other.

It is possible this play simply wanted us to know that some activists are mad terrorists, but it is difficult to imagine this lot as being able to get through a normal day, never mind involvement in a political action.

The plot is implausible, the characters unbelievable and references to the environment slight and irrelevant.

As the puzzled and bewildered survivors of the event hurried from the scene, one of them, the American Theatre director Penelope, asked if we could say anything positive about the show.

“Voice projection.” I said, thinking of the way Daniel’s shouting could be heard the other side of Edinburgh castle. Indeed I noticed several species already packing their bags to leave the country in case Daniel’s voice boded something worse to come.

I thought I should mention this at my next Extinction Rebellion meeting, unless of course BoxedIn Theatre are right and XR have by that time all gone mad and killed each other. Hmm.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna