lifeguard (3 stars)


Photo: Peter Dibdin

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.

Lifeguard - Trailer


A new piece of interactive theatre from Adrian Howells (who notably performed a one-on-one theatre piece at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 which involved him tenderly bathing the audience member and feeding them chocolates), exploring our relationship to water and swimming in intimate fashion.