The Dixie Swim Club
By Jessie Jones, Nicolas Hope and Jamie Wooten
Directed by Karen Casteel
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
Sure, it’s a woman’s play about relationships and the evils of men, but it’s a funny show about relationships and the evils of men. On the last weekend of every August the survivors of a college swim team rally for their “No work, No men, No bras” weekend at the beach. We’ll be checking in on them every few years tonight, but we open with a good grounding in each of their individual quirks. Sheree (Melody Carson) is the hyper organized health food nut, she makes schedules and organic hors d’oeuvres that taste like lawn mulch. Lexie (Sallie Glaner) is the serial trophy wife, she changes husbands more often than cars and her bust line grows and shrinks with the tide. Dinah (Jacqueline Levine) is the hard driven, hard drinking lawyer – it’s not that she doesn’t like men, they just take one look at her and plead “no contest”. Meanwhile, Vernedette (Carol Palumbo) is the bad luck encrusted red neck; she tries her best to see her children on visiting days and keeps her old medical equipment since she’ll likely need it next month. Lastly there’s ex-nun Jeri (Jenn McGinnis), she left her vows for a life of hard luck and single mom hood, but she still holds faith in humanity.
While spats flare up and life winds down, there’s a gentle thread of humor in this story that keeps it from becoming whiny. Self-absorbed Lexie was my favorite, her goals and motives were the clearest of all and she always had an amazing outfit. A close second was the clumsy Vernadette; she, too, found some wonderful clothes (watch for the clown suit) but her faithfulness to her criminal offspring was touching. An old friend of mine had three of her five children in jail or rehab at the same time but her philosophy remained “Well, two of them worked out OK.” That’s the spirit one needs when life keeps hitting you upside the head with truck testacles. Ms. Levine’s Dinah was hardest to read, she had the all-absorbing career and nearly drowned in it; a medical crisis made her stop and smell the Novocain. Ms. Carson seems most grounded, while her cooking was well intentioned and inedible, her enthusiasm for being correct and on time counts for a lot. And the most complex arc went to Jeri; she kept her religious views if not her vows, and found the big scary world isn’t so bad after all. I only have one question about the story: how did they spend 33 years at a North Carolina beach in August and only have one hurricane?
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