Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Swimmers
Marin Theatre Company
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's recent reviews of The Realistic Joneses, Mothers and Sons and Patrick's reviews of Tom Reardon's Both Sides Now: The Songs of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Wait Until Dark and Anna in the Tropics


Jessica Bates and Brian Herndon
Photo by Kevin Berne
Marin Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of Rachel Bonds' Swimmers. This play was honored with the 2015 Rella Lossy Award for excellence in a world premiere script. It has very clever dialogue but it still seems like a work in progress. The production features a strong cast of 11 very talented actors, all giving fine, intelligent performances under the direction of Mike Donahue.

The plot is set in a contemporary office building and it explores the interactions of a set of varied co-workers, their personal lives and habits. It all takes place in just one day. The workers intermingle with the day to day routines of the office; some have idiosyncratic social habits outside the office. Added to all of this are a swarm of coyotes outside, a cryptic billboard saying "7/7/16 - End of the World," and a disheveled woman who taps one of the workers, warning "The time has come."

Swimmers has short scenes, some lasting only five to seven minutes, all in the space of one hour and forty five minutes with no intermission. Sometimes they interact with each other and sometimes not. This would make a very good television series with each character being fleshed out for an hour.

I would have liked to have seen more of many of the scenes, especially those involving: custodian Walter (L. Peter Callender) and Tom (Aaron Roman Weiner), who is in the basement smoking a joint; or the waterboarding of Yuri (Brian Herndon) by Farrah (Jessica Bates). Don't ask what that's about, but it has to do with Yuri's fear of swimming. The scene involving the chubby Dennis (Adam Andrianopoulos) and Vivian (Kristin Villanueva) over a cup of tea is hilarious and contains some of the greatest funny lines of the play. I also liked the conversation of George (Charles Shaw Robinson), the alcoholic boss charged with sexual harassment, with the custodian at the end of the play. The play ends at day's end with the coyotes running around outside.

L. Peter Callender gives an outstanding performance as the janitor who is trying to mind his own business but fails to do so. Charles Shaw Robinson gives a compelling performance as the solitary, boozy executive while Jolly Abraham is splendid as a woman trying to date a coworker. Jessica Bates and Ryan Vincent Anderson are exceptional as characters trying for the same promotion. Max Rosenak is impressive as Randy, describing the scruffy woman in the woods telling him that "The time has come" for the end of the world. Brian Herndon gives a first rate performance as Yuri, who is afraid of swimming. Kristin Villanueva and Adam Andrianopoulos are entertaining in their scene, and Sarah Nina Hayon is pitch perfect as Charlene.

Scenic designer Dane Laffrey keeps the office set space sparse, with tables and chairs moving as each scene progresses, with bright florescent lighting overhead by Kurt Landisman. Dane Laffrey has also designed the costumes and they are in line with what you would see in a modern day office.

Bottom line, there are just too many scenes of two or three character interactions and it begins to wear. The drama/comedy needs to be tightened a bit to make it a successful play.

Swimmers runs through March 27, 2016, at the Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley. For tickets call 415-388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org. Coming up next is Howard Brenton's Anne Boleyn opening on April 14 and running through May 8th.


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