Review: The Swallow – Cervantes Theatre

The Swallow at Cervantes Theatre until 26th May


Review By Caroline Hanks-Farmer

As a reviewer you have to accept that life isn’t full of glitz and glamour or jazz hand abundant musicals. At the end of the day we all have challenges to deal with and sometimes, whilst escapism is nice, it is on occasion, right that we should be reminded that everyone is dealing with something. The Swallow does just that. Its gritty, visceral writing evokes strong emotions no matter your age or genre.


Wanting to work on his vocal technique before singing at the memorial service of his beloved mother, Ray enlists the help of strict singing teacher Emily. During an explosive evening of confessions it becomes clear that they are united by more than just music, as both struggle to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist attack in their own ways. Inspired by the attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando that saw the deaths of 50 people, The Swallow is a highly emotional work exploring how loss can simultaneously separate and unite people.


As I sat in the darkened auditorium waiting for the lights to go up after this production had concluded, what struck me was the many sniffs that seemed to be happening amongst the audience members. Surely this is testament to both the strong performances and the realism of the writing. Poignant and thought-provoking, it would be extremely hard not to be moved by this production. Questions were raised such as: Is such bigotry and narrow-mindedness still in existence within today’s society? But more importantly and most shockingly is – Why does it?

The writing by Guillem Clua, definitely hit home within the audience that I was a part of. Feelings of disdain, horror and an all-consuming sense of loss are felt here. Both of the actors, David Luque (Ray) and Jeryl Burgess (Emily), with expert direction from Paula Paz, gave powerful performances which drew every drop of the emotion contained within the playscript.

At times it made the audience squirm with awkwardness, a harsh observation in the reality of living in todays society.

The intimate theatre space suited this piece really well and whilst I can’t say I enjoyed it, because it’s not that kind of show, I can say I appreciated its extreme intensity and depth. The writing is superb and I’ll certainly be looking out for more productions by this writer and at the lovely new theatre space of Cervantes.

The Swallow

Cervantes Theatre

Until 26 May

7.30pm – 9pm
90 minutes no interval
Ticket prices: From £20 and £15 concessions
Arch 26. Old Union Arches. 229 Union Street. London. SE1 0LR
Twitter: @CervantesTheatr /
Facebook: CervantesTheatre /
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