Edinburgh Fringe Review: Swing – Fishamble

Steve Blount and Janet Moran in Fishamble's Swing, photo by Pat Redmond

Swing fits more aptly into the play category than it does the dance, but it’s a prime example of how, increasingly, the dance-theatre genre seems to be growing. 

In a delightfully charming hour, Steve Blount and Janet Moran deliver a host of characters all under the roof of a local swing club. Collaboratively written by both Blount and Moran along with Gavin Kostick and director Peter Daly, the daunting open dance floor has been imbrued with warmth and humour

Both Joe (Blount) and May (Moran) are honestly awkward and shy at their first Swing class. May is a graphic designer attempting to wrench herself out of boredom whilst her partner is away for three months, whilst Joe has has spent too many years working across the street, longingly watching each weekly class from a distance. As they embrace dance for the first time, Blount brings an endearingly nervous energy to Joe, whilst Blount imbues May with a bubbly, unassuming energy. 

Both are apt at switching instantaneously between their many roles. Together they breathe life into the chirpy teachers yelling shouts of ‘change!’ every few minutes, the won’t-shut-up means well, the smelly one who the entire class try desperately to avoid and, of course, the diva. All are bright, exuberant and distinct from each other, making the story easy to follow and relaxing to watch. 

Fishamble play things very safe with Swing. There is little plot development for the majority of the show, and what appears to be the beginning of a juicy incident is in the end made fairly little of and resolved too quickly to have any dramatic effect. 

You’d be forgiven for booking a ticket to see a show about swing dancing at Dance Base and being thoroughly disappointed. There is very little in the way of dance in the piece, and what moves we do see remain overwhelmingly simply that you can’t draw much satisfaction from them. However, this is not the point of Swing. If you’ve ever even so much as attempted a dance class of any style, you’ll surely relate to the very real moments of uncertainty, amusement, and occasionally, embarrassment. It’s a heart-warming tale about renewed energy, friendship and starting afresh no matter what your age or situation. The kindness and openness in this swing class is indicative of dance’s ability to bring people together and it’s this overarching message that shines through. 

Swing played at Dance Base as part of Edinburgh Fringe. For more info see the Fishamble website.

Venue: Dance Base, Edinburgh 

by Hannah Tookey