Swallow by Stef Smith, Mercury Studio Theatre, Colchester. Until Today, September 1. 01206 573948.

WHEN you have a play as powerful as Stef Smith's Swallow you need a good cast to pull it off.

And wow did director Paul T Davies strike it lucky when he got Charlotte Still, Eleanor Kent-Dyson and Jazz Ely to portray the three very different women struggling with life.

There's Anna, who refuses to leave her flat, Rebecca, whose partner has left her for another woman, and finally Sam, a man in a woman's body.

The characters on their own are beautifully and fascinatingly drawn. In monologue mode they’re funny and eloquent but for me it’s when they come together to interact with each other that the stage really lights up.

There’s Anna and Rebecca talking through a closed door which is a very clever piece of theatre indeed, but I actually preferred Rebecca and Sam’s tender relationship, at first burst at the seams because of Sam’s revelation but eventually wonderfully re-ignited through love and hope.

While the acting is pretty much perfect, the play itself has its flaws like the myriad of rather annoying metaphors littered about the narrative and the use of repetitive singular words for dramatic effect, which doesn’t add anything to the emotional delivery and is just plain annoying.

That aside as a character study of women trying to survive their own very personal ‘break downs’, Stef Smith’s play is a delight, and with three incredible actors performing it, Swallow is well worth checking out.