Theatre Alibi, The Swell

Review in Issue 10-2 | Summer 1998

The Swell is an ambiguous mix of style and atmosphere, inconclusively committing to neither. It tells the tale of a seaside town inhabited by a quirky group of people, haunted either by their disturbed pasts or their lack of social grace.

In the midst of this is thrown a Vitascope, a large art-deco clock containing a slowly pitching and yawing boat, whose beacon is akin to that of a lighthouse. Its rhythm begins to exert a magnetic pull on the characters, who are increasingly attracted to the dangerous lure of the omniscient sea. The suggestion being that their relationships are influenced by the ebbing tide.

One gets the feeling that dark and mysterious forces are being conjured to play, but they never successfully surface. The rhythm of the piece is continually upset by scene changes that seem as long as the scenes themselves, and by the overuse of props. When these serve as suggestive images, rather than illustrative ones, the mystery of the piece opens, beckoning to the audience, allowing them to think and feel.

Alibi, undoubtedly, have the ability to conjure and capture characters in a moment, and when scenes are allowed to develop the audience is sucked in. When humour counterpoints the darkness, the characters seem genuinely held in the moment, swimming with the tide of the piece rather than against it, whilst the live music by Spiro serves to add layers to the increasingly interweaving relationships. An intriguing piece whose form failed the content.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-2
p. 23