Photo – Phil Erbacher

"A storm creates a swell” states one of the characters in Isley Lynn’s puzzle play, The Swell. The climatic claim becomes a meteorological metaphor predicting the play’s climactic ending.

The very title of the play is pronounced numerous times in its many meanings: A swelling of the heart – emotion, a swelling of the brain – neurological. And these manifestations take on physical characteristics within this production.

Identity, too, is a major template of the narrative. The idea of What’s in a name? And a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, comes to the fore. What's in a name, indeed, as we discover all the women have shortened their names, or in the case of free-spirited surfer chick, Flo, jettisoned their given name entirely. 

Another Shakespeare adage comes to mind in The Swell, amended slightly, as in there is a tide in the affairs of women, which taken at the flood leads on to a future. That future, which is presented in the now, pricks us into  moral and ethical debate. Is the voyage of their lives is bound in the shallows and in miseries and must take the swell when it serves, or lose our ventures?

Director Julia Billington guides six superb actors, Alexandra Keddie, Jesica Bell, Monique Salle, Katherine Hopwood Poulsen, Fiona Press and Deborah Jones, alternating characters through time shifts that span several decades.

Hannah Yardley’s set design of a timber jetty that can be reshaped and re-positioned is simple, effective and evocative, it’s old timbers eroded by time but still relatively stable and enduring.

Emotionally enlarged with morally rousing tragic optimism, The Swell is a good tale told quietly before we are catapulted to its crest, picked up by a wave of unexpected reveals.

All’s swell that ends The Swell? See it and see.

Event details

Akimbo + Co presents
The Swell
by Isley Lynn

Director Julia Billington

Venue: Old Fitz Theatre | 129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo NSW
Dates: 15 February – 2 March 2024
Tickets: $75 – $35

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