Pool Play: In brief
The nascent theater company Not a Theatre Company dips its toe in the pool—literally—with a devised piece about swimming, conceived and directed by Erin B. Mee and staged in an actual natatorium. The text is by Jessie Bear and Charles Mee; synchro swimming and musical numbers are among the attractions.
Pool Play: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Site-specific work can cloud dramaturgical good sense. A gorgeous, unusual location seduces the director, and she’ll move heaven and insurance forms to wedge a text into it. Occasionally piece and location jibe, but too often productions lean on setting; the novelty of being, say, in a church or a taxi can’t substitute for less-than-sturdy writing.
Such is the case with Erin Mee’s gentle Pool Play, staged in the Waterside apartment complex’s steamy natatorium. A bathing-suited cast frolics in the blue as the audience, high on chlorine fumes, dangles its legs in the shallow end. The actors twinkle emphatically through Jessie Bear’s quick-fire collage-text: reminiscences about bathtub splashing, a portrait of a segregated municipal pool, a trio of breaststrokers tussling with coaches. For a while, it’s a charming, deliberately distracting alternative to the tundra outdoors, but an insistence on “live-in-the-moment” seriousness sinks it. “We are here / And it is now,” intones one dude in board shorts. Oy. In this case, being inflated doesn’t float.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE: This aquatic attraction gives us a sinking feeling.
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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Funny, inventive, provocative and ingenious. A truly entertaining event and something you'll never see anywhere else. The text is rich and eloquent, the actors all totally invested, and the staging wonderfully imaginative and smart. Don't miss it!
Helen Shaw's review sinks without a trace. She makes factual mistakes (there was no overwhelming chlorine smell), and her poor writing grates (the phrase "she'll move heaven and insurance forms to wedge a text into it" is terrible for several reasons, starting with the mixed metaphor). Worst of all, Shaw doesn't understand the play. It's a creative, original, thought-provoking piece on the complicated and even mysterious world of the swimming pool, and the acting and directing are terrific. The play is certainly one of the best this year.
I thought this was a really charming piece, had a smile on my face throughout... enjoyed the discussion of pools as status symbols, and the racial history was well done too I thought... interesting how it eventually strayed from strictly pools to discuss our relation with water generally... Worst part of being in a pool was improvised seating and acoustics, but the cast handled it well (and no chlorine smells!)
Helen Shaw and I saw totally different plays. The play I saw is funny, moving, made me think deeply about water and the environment, and made me laugh. What could be funnier then an avante-garde take on synchro, or being lectured by a fish? Awesome production. And the pool doesn't smell like chlorine at all.
I'm not always comfortable with immersive theater, but I found this play to be intriguing, unorthodox, yet universal. You won't experience another play like this.
I had no idea what a play in a pool would be, but the scenes are both interesting and funny comments about different people's experiences of pools, and there are musical numbers that really use the water in a new way. It's like a musical in a pool. Waaay cool.
A wonder-filled break from the tundra outside. Don't let the above description fool you: it's synchronized swimming with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and intelligent and winning music. It's immensely enjoyable and provocative. You will want to go swimming at once--and you will be all the more appreciative of the experience the next time you do. Go see it!
Incredibly creative!!! Unusual and terrific experience. A deep and entertaining meditation on water.