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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2004

George Square Theatre

Rune Gellein

Samantha Swan’s biographical play, in which she plays her aunt Sissy, could have been a tedious play. It falls into a big group of plays about abusive families, and as such is nothing new on the Fringe. In addition to, as the blurb promises ‘sex, booze and bad Catholics’, we get abuse and rape and fist fights.

The performance is however far from ordinary. The Cygnet Company prides itself on ‘a strong text, a handful of props and a small troupe of performers committed to creating a tangible world on stage’. This play has all of that. The props in this case consist of a chair and a table. The text doesn’t provide for a single dull moment and the performances of the four actors are very convincing. Maybe in particular from Samantha Swan herself.

In one of the few bad points in the text Samantha Swan, as aunt Sissy, says there is a rapist in all men. Given the nightmare of a family (autobiographical or not), it does sort of make sense where those lines are spoken and one of the more sympathetic male characters are allowed to refute it.

Snapshot might be a play about Samantha Swan’s family, but it also gives a snapshot of what today’s society see in the family as an institution; a dark and very unpleasant place to be. After this, for Samantha Swan, possibly therapeutic airing of family secrets, it will be very interesting to see what comes from her and the Cygnet Company next. The talent both in terms of writing and performing is obviously there.


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