Pool Play. Waterside Plaza Pool (see Off-Off Broadway). By Jessie Bear. Conceived and directed by Erin Mee. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.
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.