The air is warm, moist, chlorine-tinged. How "immersive" is Lifeguard going to be? Well, whether you dip into the pool or no, you will get wet. The Lifeguard (Adrian Howells, who originated, wrote and directed the work) will, like the lithely agile Ira Mandela Siobhan (The Swimmer), plunge vigorously and splashily into the water, but the more lingering impact of what is said, done and shown seeps in long after any dampness has been towelled away.
The whole piece is a collage of droplets: fragments of text; a soundscape that, like the lighting, alters moods; and occasional film-work that floats images onto the water, the swimming bodies like happy echoes of the pool's own former glory. We hear of fear, we hear of sensual surrender. We see Siobhan's lean body move with exquisite grace as if in his true element, and we see and feel the churning aggression when he suddenly acts up. A dark twist in mid-reverie reminds us that oxygen, not water, is what we need in our lungs. The water beckons, even so: cue onlookers getting in the swim as well.
Before or after, make time to look in on Water, Water, Everywhere. Children and adults from the local area have filled the disused adjacent pool with artwork, writing and music – the polyphonic choral singing is, like the gorgeously vivid painting and text, not just an uplifting celebration of water but of community itself.
Co-presented by the National Theatre of Scotland, the Arches and Govanhill Baths Community Trust.