The Lady Swims Today
nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
February 9, 2007
The Lady Swims Today, a new thriller by H.G. Brown, tells the story of Eddie, Harley, George, and Mal, four guys trying to pull off a two million dollar heist off the coast of Maryland. Their base of operations is a hotel bar owned by Mal, one of the would-be criminals, who is struggling to pay his bills and upgrade the hotel. Unfortunately, their plot is hampered by Mal's wife, Beverly, and her best friend, Joyce, who stumble onto the men's plans at the most inopportune moments along with Alice, Harley's stripper girlfriend.
The first act is pretty slow until Alice enters, and brings with her the energy the show needs. From that point on, the plot is engaging and entertaining, though many of the twists and turns, especially in the second act, seem to come from nowhere. Unfortunately the cast has trouble justifying the many beat changes, which leaves the audience often wondering, "what just happened?" Brown's dialogue often sparkles, however, and his well-drawn characters certainly keep our interest piqued.
Brown wears multiple hats as writer, producer, and director, and unfortunately his play seems to suffer from it. A firm directorial hand could clear up many of the play's minor problems and turn the evening into a truly enjoyable one. The cast, heavily laden with film and TV credits, as a whole seem uncomfortable in a theatrical setting. Barnett fares the best as Alice; her natural charm and energy are a breath of fresh air. Robert Funaro is perfectly cast as Eddie, the mobster who drives the plan forward, and Gordon Silva is very funny as George, the hotel's barkeep.
With a few cuts, the show would be the perfect entertainment if it were site specific; I can see the play being a real charmer if it were actually performed in an out-of-the-way hotel bar. As it stands, however, it needs a few more drafts, and the Richmond Shepard Theatre isn't the most welcoming space for this intimate play.