Compelling, fragmented site-specific performance piece exploring our relationship with water
Adrian Howells’ performance piece, created in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland and sited in Govanhill Baths, is a collage of images exploring our relationship with water. Each fragment is compelling in itself but these combine to create a whole that is so fragile it fades like a dream, even as you’re sipping hot chocolate in the café afterwards.
By inviting the audience to participate in the ritual of changing into swimsuit and flip-flops in the newly renovated baths and eventually enticing us into the shimmering water of the training pool, Howells evokes a powerful nostalgia that’s enhanced not only by the smell of chlorine but a succession of projected images, the slap of a rubber brick as it hits the water, the tidal waves created by Howells and his performing partner Ira Mandela Siobhan dive-bombing and leg-kicking and recorded tales of learning to swim and skinny-dipping. For its short length the piece weaves a multi-sensory web around its audience, but you’re left longing for a clearer shape, a greater emotional crescendo and perhaps some social or political context to these reminiscences.
lifeguard runs at Govanhill Baths, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Oct.