Eight years ago, the Paris-born Celya AB moved to Birmingham – on purpose. The self-proclaimed “dweeb” had always been obsessed with England. So much so, that Skins even convinced her she might like drugs for a second.
This debut hour gives the details of AB’s adjustment to British life and culture – it has taken her some getting used to. Phrases have been misheard, people have thought she’s rude, but worst of all, it has resulted in her being taught to swim at 25 by a man she’d been dating.
It is a unique central topic that pokes at becoming a real grilling of the British’s perception of themselves. But often AB strays from it to make gags that are stale. There’s talk of phone obsession, hate for Jeff Bezos and the blandness of office job conversation – all things we’ve heard many times before.
It doesn’t help that AB seems uncomfortable up there. She wanders, awkwardly back and forth. Gaps are extended and reach the realm of feeling painful. There’s not the propulsive urgency needed to keep us hooked to her.
With some cuts and a reshape, Swimming could offer the unique perspective of a French immigrant living in Britain. In its current form, it doesn’t quite float.