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Review: The Pool at Bold Park Aquatic Centre

Review by Tatum Stafford

Anyone who has grown up (or spent a few childhood summers) in Perth will know that the water is a formative part of life out west. Whether it’s at the beach, in the river, a neighbour’s pool, or the local community pool, hitting the water with your friends, family, or solo is a way to hit the refresh button and quieten your thoughts as your head goes under.

This sentiment is beautifully presented in Black Swan Theatre Company’s latest outing, ‘The Pool’. This is a site-specific piece of theatre (that becomes very immersive for some audience members) that takes place at Bold Park Aquatic Centre; a functioning community pool complete with lap lanes, deck chairs, and a spacious amphitheatre which is usually used to towel off, but tonight was used as audience seating. 

First things first, the technology used in this show is incredibly impressive. As any other ‘theatre’ person would recognise, it’s no easy feat to get mic levels to be correctly balanced and functioning in a conventional theatre, let alone in an outdoor, open-air, aquatic centre. Eagle eyes amongst the audience seemed to also clock this and nod in appreciation when actors wearing head mics would chat to each other, dive under the water, and re-emerge with no tech issues with their microphones whatsoever – it was really impressive. 

The high-quality tech extends to the audience experience, as we were all given a set of headphones for the entire show. Throughout the performance, different characters would weave in and out of the story at different volumes, there were musical interludes, and there were inner monologues of characters that were only audible through these headphones, to give us an insight into characters’ innermost thoughts and feelings. It was a fantastic choice to truly immerse the audience, and also leant in on the immersive theatre aspect – though the script and character relationships were spelt out, you could realistically look wherever you liked to pick up different moments, and avoid missing out on key dialogue because of the headphones and sound design. Phenomenal work by Tim Collins, Composer and Sound Designer.

The plot features intertwining stories and conversations from the 10-strong cast, themed around their relationships with water and how it affected them growing up. Steve Rodgers’ writing is beautiful and poignant, and director Kate Champion showcased masterful storytelling in its staging. Every inch of the pool and its surrounds were used, creating fantastic visual interest and spotlighting specific moments beautifully. 

As with any Black Swan show, there were some stunning acting performances in this show. Joel Jackson was a standout as encouraging swim instructor Kirk, as were Polly Low and Julia Moody as friends Greta and Val, and Emma Jackson as recovering addict Joni. 

This is a quintessential piece of Western Australian theatre; a perfect fit for Perth Festival. It showcases stunning acting, writing, directing, and technical achievement, and is a fantastic show with plenty of relatable characters and emotions that truly has something for everyone. 

Image Supplied


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