Four star review: Tumbletuck King’s Head Theatre

Tumble Tuck (c) Alex Brenner (

Tumble Tuck (c) Alex Brenner ( - Credit: Archant

Compelling one woman show set in the world of competitive swimming tackles body image self-loathing and self-empowerment

When it comes to gender representation in the theatre, the statistics speak of a galling reality. Although 65 percent of theatregoers are women, only a paltry 28 percent of plawrights are female. Conjecture will rightly rumble on as to the whys and wherefores of such a chasm, but it has galvanised the King’s Head Theatre to curate a season of work by women.

The headline act of the festival is a one-woman show by actor/writer, Sarah Milton. Tumble Tuck is a fast-paced amble into the world of competitive swimming where the body scrutiny is high and bitchiness palpable. More than that though, it is a play that tussles with the notion of self-worth in its measures, definition and estimations.

Milton paces the stage with a restless energy, inhabiting a collection of characters. Her main charge is Daisy, the sassy but insecure Londoner, who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into her local swimming team. This is her tale. It is one filled with uncertainty and self-opprobrium. Her ‘bits’ are ‘too wobbly’ and she questions her ability. But this is only part of the story. Can the woman of tomorrow forgive the young girl of yesterday in order to overcome her demons?

First things first: Milton is fantastic. An adept, compelling and dextrous all-rounder, she is equally at home with the zinging one-liner and the impassioned soliloquy. The trouble lies solely in the writing, which could do with refinement. Some aspects are a tad undercooked and others are a bit too contrived (the ex-boyfriend’s story for example), but these are minor issues. After all, there are plenty of bright ideas nestling in this work - and the creator has the chops to pull them off.

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Tumble Tuck makes a strong case that while we are a summation of our life experiences we can also transcend the barriers put in place by our past. Self-empowerment is defined for a single woman in this production, but it also carries the motif of the festival for women in general in a way that is gender-specific, but is also universal. And that’s an impressive feat in itself.

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