After the flood, the bickering...

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Swan Song
Published 20 Aug 2016

The seas have risen and the nations of the Earth have been drowned. As four survivors sit despondently on a swan pedalo and consider their fate, one remarks that this should, at least, settle any arguments over global warming's veracity. Another responds: "Agree to disagree."

Although its premise hinges upon environmental destruction, Swansong is a play far more concerned with humanity: its perennial dreams, idiocies and delusions, how its responds to the challenges of life, and ultimately its eternal defiance, even in the face of possible extinction.

Punctuated by musical interludes where the cast act as their own Greek chorus, the survivors decide to use a diary to record humanity's greatest accomplishments, intending to leave it as a blueprint for anyone wishing to rebuild civilisation. Obviously, the plot of Die Hard is a key chapter. 

So mismatched are the improbable quartet—a bullish fitness fanatic, a rah-rah posh boy, a self-righteous hippie and a morose intellectual—that there initially seems to be some danger these characters will be archetypes more than fleshed-out human beings. Fortunately, their gloriously funny and poignant interactions quickly put such fears to rest, and despite their differences and failings, each will arouse sympathy as well as laughter as a strange bond is formed between them.

Swansong is at once bleak and hopeful, innocent and cynical, dark and light. It reconciles these narrative mood swings through the strength of its writing and the note-perfect comedic and dramatic skills of its cast. The result is nothing short of brilliance.