Swim Shorts 3
nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
July 20, 2007
Swim Shorts 3 is a mini vacation romp at the roof pool atop the Holiday Inn Midtown. With great energy, Impetuous Theater Group has brought back their site-specific festival of short plays. An engaging company of actors brings marvelous vigor to these compact plays, which vary a bit in the quality of writing; but the evening as a whole is quite enjoyable and makes rich use of the surroundings—where else do you get to see a play while reclining poolside in a chaise lounge?
Series A consists of five brief pieces, demonstrating fluctuating degrees of effective pool usage. It starts off quite strongly with Joe the Lifeguard, a marvelously funny piece of screwball comedy by C.L. Weatherstone that is well-served by the dense surfer dignity of Tyler Hollinger's lifeguard and by Christine Verleny as the woman threatening to ruin his shift by relentlessly trying to do away with herself. Director Holli Harns keeps them moving about the space well and at a perfect pace where I was clear on what was happening but never got ahead of the piece to question its logic.
Janet Zarecor's Forgiveness is a tale of comic betrayal between two friends, plus a tipsy guardian angel. While amusing, its conceit of using the pool as a batch of quicksand forces a stillness in the piece and creates difficulties of projection and sightline, which a different space would have solved and better supported the play. The cast (Kira Blaskovich, Chad Meador, and Mark Souza) is game and they surmount the vocal difficulties, but the play does not exploit well the advantage of having a pool as your set.
Luckily Jettison by Brendan Bradley is able to launch a boat for its tale of disaster at sea and despite the patently safe confines of the pool, does a good job of bringing the audience much further out to sea. With engaging moments of character, it almost overcomes some very odd plot twists and has an unexpectedly effective ending. I could see it coming but it still worked, seeming to take the characters by surprise and startling me in the moment.
Another great cast (Andy Chmelko, Jennifer Loryn, and Eddy Rimada) supports Roi "Bubi" Escudero's A Proverbial Affair, the tale of an engaged couple come to the big city only to have Gotham awaken sides of the fiancée hitherto unexpected—that are then exploited by a tattoo artist, who happens to be swimming alongside. With great direct acknowledgement of the space, Escudero saves the fanciful moments for rambunctious though sometimes inconsistent character development. The cast's take-no-prisoners-of-logic energy propels many of these stereotypical elements into hilarity but with more specificity in the writing, these characters could have been even stronger.
The evening ends with its best use of the pool and accents, Der Eisbar by Joe Mathers & Brian MacInnis Smallwood, which is enormously endearing. With the sensibility of child's play at bath time combined with classic action movie humor, this piece spans a Bermuda Triangle of cold war mentalities in comic battle. Director John Hurley and this talented cast have worked out an entire logic for the premise of the play and how the battle maneuvers operate that creates a captivating flight of fantasy.
Having never been to the Holiday Inn's rooftop pool before, it was nice to discover this partially patio/partially pool space with a great view of the Manhattan sunset. Beverages are served throughout and the audience is encouraged to linger after and for a nominal fee can have swim privileges until midnight. A lovely pool, an engaging company, and moments of great laughter make for an evening that feels like a vacation getaway.