Flying With Swans

Flying with Swans focuses on three women, all now well into retirement, who reignite their old tradition of taking the ferry to watch the arrival of the whooper swans as they migrate. As might be expected, this proves an opportunity for old grievances to rise and old ghosts to be laid to rest, with just enough room for plenty of laughter along the way.

Ultimately, this is an enjoyable enough production with a highly engaging cast. Even if it does wear its themes on its sleeve, it has much to recommend it.

A superb cast includes Kay Gallie, who is wonderful as the surprisingly stoical Jean; her blend of razor sharp understanding, playful good nature and moments of confusion is a privilege to watch. Gallie is very well complemented by Anne Kidd as the rather more austere Dolly; she’s particularly strong when playing Dolly at the height of her power, sure of her place in the world but with, initially, just the faintest sense that cracks might begin to show. It is very subtly done. Karen Ramsey, meantime, brings a real energy and lightness to the trio as the free spirited Mona.

Kate Latham's costume design strongly augments the work of the actors. From their first appearance, Jean and Dolly are clearly very different people. Jean dresses like an old lady; Dolly has understated style in her expensive mac and scarf.

Superficially at least, Jack Dickson has written a lively script that contains enough jokes and clever one liners to keep the audience entertained throughout the 45 minute running time. There is also plenty of opportunity for pathos in the script's more serious moments. However, the story’s structure is too clearly visible for the play to really have a chance of surprising us.

From the first few minutes, it is clear that this is going to be a play in which the innermost secrets of the characters' hearts will be revealed. A few minutes later, it is clear what those secrets are, even though they’re not officially “revealed” until half an hour later, when they are accompanied by equally predictable (though very well executed) monologues.

Similarly, on paper the three characters are reasonably simple archetypes. That they come across as genuinely three dimensional people in the production is thanks to the excellent work of the actors; it’s just a shame they weren't given more to work with.

Ultimately, this is an enjoyable enough production with a highly engaging cast. Even if it does wear its themes on its sleeve, it has much to recommend it.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

When three old friends get together for the first time in many years, what should be a simple ferry trip to the Isle of Arran for the arrival of migrating whooper swans becomes the journey of a lifetime.

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