Like Dolphins Can Swim, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When they were kids, Alice promised Sam that when they were grown, they would still hang out and play superheroes. Now they’re uni students home for the summer, and have both changed a lot since that promise. But Alice turns up in Sam’s back garden to make good.

Her heart’s not in the game, though. They play a bit, then argue. They play some more, and argue again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Little happens and the narrative breathes just enough to avoid flatlining. On top of this issue, the use of a totally unnecessary, surprise dramaturgical choice contributes little to a story that is fundamentally about how their friendship has changed and Alice has become less tolerant of his controlling bullshit. 

Sam clearly fancies Alice, and the story is more focused on his emotional journey than hers – frustratingly anti-feminist tropes all around. She’s more mature, and he constantly treats her like a sidekick, both in and out of their superhero alter egos. It’s clear why she has limited patience for him, but Sam never really gets it. 

The performances are inconsistent, with their arguing largely limited to detached sarcasm rather than genuine rage. The actor playing Sam bottles his emotions rather than expressing them, and Alice mothers him in is moments of faux vulnerability.

There are some genuine moments between the two, and the premise has potential. But the plot and the characters are too badly neglected to foster much interest.

Like Dolphins Can Swim runs through 27 August.
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