In just the last year it feels like an entire generation has woken up to the climate crisis that we all face, and that realisation has come in some part from increased protests in cities across the world. While it may be a stretch to refer to this as eco-terrorism like the kind on display in Henry Robert’s Swallows, making its debut at the Fringe’s first zero waste venue The Greenhouse, it certainly feels like this is a journey we have just begun.
Where that journey eventually leads is vividly imagined in Swallows, as an audience we are left to decide how we have reached this point on our own, but the outcome is clear; the world has been all but destroyed by climate change and a group of eco-terrorists have been sent on a mission to destroy a fracking plant.
Without giving too much away, this will be the groups final mission so tensions are running high, and Henry Roberts focusses this play on the taught psychological tensions that erupt from the situation.
Beginning as a two hander, with Isabella Sheridan as Tim and Sarah Chamberlain as Ella, we get an idea of where the play gets it title as Aesop’s Fables come to the fore. But it is with the arrival of ringleader Harry, played by Daniel Jonusas that the stakes are raised ever higher.
Thanks to the set-up of the theatre, the outside is used to as much effect as the inside, with sound effects created by banging on the side of the walls. As the characters are supposed to be hiding in a shipping container, director Oli Savage has ensured that the audience feel every ounce of tension that there is to be felt.
The performances are outstanding, the final third of the play is concerned with the relationship between Tim and Harry, Daniel Jonusas flips from charming to terrifying in the blink of an eye, in what is really a terrific portrayal of the character, and he creates a real sense that this is a young person desperate to protect their future at all costs.
Swallows is beautifully written, it initially leaves us unsure where it’s headed, but comes together in to a strong and compelling narrative with such an important message to share.