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  • Flora Gosling

Review: Swallow The Sea Caravan Theatre - Triptych (Pleasance Courtyard)

Updated: May 31, 2022

One of the first things anyone learns in a primary school art class is the elements of art; things like line, shape, colour, form etc. In Swallow the Sea Caravan Theatre’s Triptych, one of three performances the mobile company are bringing to the Fringe this year, it is as though those same building block concepts are being broken down in a theatrical space. The performers (Jess Raine, Jemima Thewes and Emma Brierley) start from within a caravan, shielded from view, and gradually reveal parts of themselves, limb by limb, until the three of them emerge, clad in dusty raincoats in primary colours. They wobble about the space, interacting with the soundscape and objects, and finish with a comedic sequence in which one of the performers struggles to find an object that corresponds with the colour on their raincoat.

Running at just 20 minutes, expectations of any kind of narrative or character ought to be left at the threshold. Visually, it resembles the works of Marlow Moss. The performances are more akin to something out of a children’s TV show like Teletubbies or Boobah. It is a curious arrangement of movement and imagery, but it does not deliver the all-immersive experience that Swallow the Sea Caravan Theatre promises. Perhaps outside of COVID restrictions these ambitions could be fulfilled, as their performances have hitherto taken place inside of the caravan, but as it is the performance is devoid of anything recognisable other than shapes and colours.

That is not to say its detachment is a flaw, in fact it was evidently the aim. That may be enough for some who wish to test how minimalist a performance can be, but there’s a question about what the performance brings to the average audience. Aside from its amusing final few minutes, the absurdism cannot be described as endearing. Rather, it is best described as observable. One can only take the performance as it is; a raw assembly of recognisable components. Three stars.

Whispers from the Crowd:

Very sweet and very short.

Took me back to Dadaism.


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