Rep's 'Swim Club' features lovable characters

Often times, predictability is comforting. And if you like to play along at home, it's not difficult to stay one step ahead of "The Dixie Swim Club," the comedy that opened Friday at the Rochester Repertory Theatre.

The play is about five women who are former college swim teammates and who hold annual reunions at a North Carolina beach house. We watch as they go through the predictable crises: marriage dissolution, law-breaking offspring, illness and the vagaries of aging. The only suspense is guessing which one of them will be the first to leave the scene.

Generally, you can guess what's coming. Even many of the jokes are telegraphed in advance. All of which is why it is imperative that this play be carried by a sparkling cast, such as the one director Dawn Farr has assembled for the Rep's production. Farr has cast five delightful women who seem to truly revel in each other's friendship, and who convey that joy to the audience. We like being in their company.

Kim Lange makes her Rep debut as Sheree, the former team captain, who now organizes the reunions and as much of her friends' lives as possible. Lange more than holds her own among her talented colleagues on stage.

She is joined by Laure Helmers, as Lexie, a cougar intent on retaining her beauty and her touch with men. Helmers has the juiciest role in the show and plays it to the hilt.


Julie Baska is Dinah, a hard-drinking, hard-charging attorney who turns out to have a soft heart. Dawn Miller gives us Jeri Neal, a former nun, as a one-time innocent whose country sayings frequently contain nuggets of wisdom,

Finally, there is Mary McPhee as Vernadette, the bad-luck member of the group. McPhee has an edge to her comedy, but does her best work in the poignant final scene, where her character faces a future most of us are reluctant to contemplate.

There's plenty of comedy in the script written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, but the laughs often come too easy. More of the subtlety and shading that create greater depth would be welcome.

"The Dixie Swim Club" takes place on a bright, airy set that is a sight for sore eyes, given our recent cold snap. Leisa Luis-Grill's landscape backdrop makes the ocean look oh so inviting.

Our recommendation: Go for the scenery, stay for the company.


If you go

"The Dixie Swim Club" continues through Jan. 25 at the Rochester Repertory Theatre. For tickets, call 507-289-1737.

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