Full Rogue’s production of Wild Swimming is a joyful, clever and funny show about gender, privilege, poetry and swimming. Alice Lamb and Annabel Baldwin play Oscar and Nell, two childhood friends with different destinies as a man and a woman. We meet them in the sixteenth century where Nell is left in Dorset until she is married, whereas Oscar heads to University, to fill his mind with ideas about poetry and swimming the Hellespont. The play twists and turns through four hundred years of English history like a pas de deux version of Woolf’s Orlando. The pair meet on this beach in each new age. Nell gaining a little more freedom and Oscar some food for thought.
The self-reflexiveness built into the script and the performance let these points of contention play out, always with warmth behind them as you believe in the love between the characters. It gets meta often, but in a way, that aids the ideas put forward. These two are consistent characters throughout history. The only thing that changes is the world around them. It tosses the fortune of men and women through war and burning at the stake, to depression and a life well-lived. A fascinating way to get to grips with gender history.