Set against the turbulent backdrop of World War One and the Easter Rising, At Swim, Two Boys tells the story of Irish Catholics Jim Mack, a naive and awkward scholar, and Doyler Doyle, the dark, rough and handsome son of an old army man, formerly best friends with Jim's dad. As Doyler teaches Jim how to swim in the sea in preparation for a swim out to the Muglins (an offshore island), the two friends find their relationship developing into something much more intense and almost sexual.
At Swim, Two Boys contains examples of
- Adaptation Distillation: The Earthfall dance piece, which focuses solely on Doyler and Jim. Their romance also becomes a more ambiguous friendship.
- Arc Words: 'Pal of me heart'
- Bilingual Dialogue: Anthony MacMurrough and his Aunt Eveline, who occasionally speaks in French.
- Bury Your Gays: Not exactly played straight as their involvement in the Easter Rising is more lethal to the characters than their sexual preference. Still seems to be in play because the story could have had them be straight or had them survive, despite the revolution.
- Depraved Homosexual: Subverted with Anthony MacMurrough, although not in-universe.
- Double Entendre: Whether intentional or not, the flutes are a very loaded metaphor
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Eveline often lapses into French, presumably because she thinks it adds to her air of sophistication. Could possibly be an in-universe example of Gratuitous French.
- Gayngst: In a Catholic community at the start of the 20th Century, it's only to be expected.
- La Résistance: The Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers.
- Lover and Beloved: Explored with MacMurrough and Doyler and later played straight with Jim.
- Messianic Archetype: Played with with Doyler's mother.
- Rite of Passage: What MacMurrough sees the swim from The Forty Foot as being. It's slightly more complicated than that.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Implied.
- Straight Gay: All of the gay characters can pass as this to some extent.