Review: SWAP


The audience was dressed for the sweltering conditions outside, though it was pleasant inside the theatre.  The lady in front of me had even brought a fan, and did a great job of keeping us both cool.  With the elegant surroundings of the Grand Theatre it all felt very genteel.  Until, that is, the death toll in Swap began to climb.

The plot is essentially that a couple from Wimbledon and his brother go on a house swap holiday to a remote villa in Spain.   They have barely arrived when they stumble on a body which tumbles from a broom cupboard.  They are then witnesses to or inadvertent participants in a number of other untimely demises.  I won’t disclose a final death toll as that would be a bit of a plot spoiler.

In the preview for this production I suggested it might be suitable escapism from the goings on in the world at the moment, and a lot of the audience were up for this.  I kept a running total and around 140 jokes got a laugh from someone in the audience.  At the interval I heard several people describe it as a good old fashioned farce, which seems an appropriate enough summary. Personally speaking I struggle to find the word scallops inherently funny, for example, so I was probably not the target audience.

Other reviews since the production opened in the UK have been mixed.  There has been reference to a lack of rehearsal, I think this had probably begun to sort itself out as with one exception (Mr Dobson) most people seemed very confident with their material.  Ironically the funniest moment of the night appeared to be an error of this kind, where a getaway car was mistakenly referred to as a taxi.  This led to some enjoyable off the cuff ad libbing, and several of the cast corpsing with one leaving the stage to compose themselves.  It may not have been pitch perfect but it was very funny, and got the best laugh of the night.  Perhaps if the cast can shrug off hitches like this every night it will add to the enjoyment of the evening.

The preview suggested that this production might not be suitable for younger viewers, and having attended I would confirm that discretion would be required when taking children or those of a more sensitive disposition.  There is quite a lot of double entendre humour, but nothing particularly explicit, however there is use of gunfire effects and a lot of gallows humour which children could find upsetting.

It can be a bit difficult to single out acting performances in a farce, where being a bit over the top is part of the territory.  Overall though Michelle Morris, best known perhaps as PC Honey Harman in The Bill, stood out as a convincing long-suffering spouse.

If you are up for a bit of escapism this fast moving farce runs until Saturday, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and evening performances every day at 7.30pm.  Ticket prices start at £14.50 for matinees, with cheaper options for Under-26s at certain performances.

For more information or to book tickets visit the Grand Theatre website.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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