Two Boys Make a Splash at Riverside Studios

Go with an open mind to West London's wettest stage show, says Penny Flood


at swim two boys

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Riverside Studios


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At Swim Two Boys is a story of forbidden love in the time of turmoil, told through dance, music and video.

Two young boys fall in love and we watch them as they meet, flirt and consummate their relationship in a lake beneath a waterfall. They’re in Ireland, it’s 1916, the country is tearing itself apart with the Easter Uprising, the rest of Europe is at war and the lake is where they find freedom and peace.

This multimedia experience is enhanced by a very special effect – a real waterfall which flows through the show, with the sound of water giving a surreal background to the show.

Of course the stage gets very, very wet and the water becomes part of the action as the boys play and splash around. (Over 1,000 litres are used in each show, so there is a collection at the end for the charity Wateraid.)

Radical choreography and physical performance combine to make this a very unusual work. The dancing isn’t what you’d expect from a regular dance company, like Rambert for example. The two boys are strong and fit with beautiful bodies and they’re good to watch as they leap around the stage. What they lack in elegance, they make up for in raw energy.

However, the choreography is uneven. Many of the moves are repetitive and the dance lacks a narrative quality to move things along, so sometimes the action seems to get stuck and go on too long. This was a particular fault of the opening scene. When the novelty of the waterfall wore off, the two boys began to resemble two puppies playing in a puddle. However, the pace picks up after that.

The production, which is in one act lasting about an hour, is a four hander. The two boys on the stage (Daniel Connor and Murilo Leite D’Imperio) are accompanied throughout by two musicians (Frank Naughton and Sion Orgon) on a variety of instruments, including accordion, guitar, keyboard, flute and drums.

It’s this music that sets the moods – funny, sexy, fearful, horrific, profoundly sad. The music is smashing and it’s a pity they weren’t selling CDs with it.

To establish the time in which this is set, the waterfall doubles up as a screen where footage of the horrors of the real world are projected as the boys dance, play and enjoy their time together in front of it. But the real world can’t stay in the background for ever and it slowly, slowly impinges. Their waterfall and lake can’t hide them any longer and they dance and splash to a heartbreaking end.

It won’t be to everybody’s taste. If you like experimental dance and theatre, you are more likely to love it. Whatever your preconceptions, go with an open mind because it will probably be different to anything you’ve seen before.

Even if you feel this is outside your comfort zone but you’re open to new experiences, it’s worth giving it a go. It’s not perfect but it’s beautifully done.

At Swim Two Boys is on from Tuesdays till Saturdays until February 25 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £15,  £12 concessions.

Riverside Studios is in Crisp Road, London W6. For further information call the box office on 020 8237 1111 or book tickets online.

February 14, 2012


January 4, 2012