Staying afloat through years of friendship and mutual support is one way of describing the theme of this 2007 comedy by playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten. It is directed by Bob Kosson of Brookfield. Lynda Porter of Lisle serves as assistant director, while Grove Players President Steven Merkel, along with Michael Pemberton, both of Downers Grove, are the co-producers.
The play, which opens Fri., May 12, covers the lives of five women who formed lasting friendships with each other while on their college swim team.
The dialogue is extremely clever, with zinger one-liners which add to the flood of situational comedy that infuses the play. This is necessary ballast for the serious undertow of life challenges these women face, ranging from issues with children, spouses, health, careers, money, and so on.
The setting is a beach house on the ocean in North Carolina, where the women have a yearly summer weekend reunion. Audiences first meet these women twenty-two years after they have graduated college, when they are around age forty-four, then after a five year-time lapse, making them close to age forty-nine. Listening in on them after another five-year time lapse reveals them at age fifty-four, while audiences have their last sighting of the group after another twenty-three years have gone by, when they are about seventy-seven years old.
Kosson, who previously directed "Sabrina Fair" for Grove Players in 2010, stated that he was "attracted to the play partly because of the theatricalization of aging" - the women age about thirty-three years over the course of the action.
"How do you show the characters getting older, not only through make-up, etc., but through physical and psychological changes?" Kosson asked. "What technological and fashion changes have happened in that time, and how are these changes reflected through the set, props and costuming?"
The play speaks to everyone because everyone ages. That is one of the themes of the play: "the experience of Time's progression," Kosson explained. "I see the audience reflecting on their own lives as they see these five characters evolve through time. The question the play addresses is How did I get here? "
Well, one could answer that some characters are carried along on currents willy-nilly, whereas others choose to go with the flow. Playing these different women and their varied approaches to the rip-tides, storms and rough seas of life are an accomplished cast. Amy DeJong of Downers Grove is Dinah, successful in her career as a lawyer, but not in her love life, and Jude Krempler of Westmont portrays Sheree, who tends to carry over her captain of the team leadership role into the group s reunions.
Cheryl McKay of Oak Brook plays Lexie, a man-magnet who says her self-absorption doesn't mean she is also shallow; Plainfield s Brenda Gilmore is Jeri Neal, the Pollyana nun whose life takes some surprising left-turns, and Stacy McCargo of Western Springs is the hapless Vernadette, who can never quite keep her head above water in any aspect of life for long.
These women may enact the equivalent of splashing each other in the face or dunking one another in their occasional, petty-to-serious squabbles, but should one of them flounder, the others don't hesitate to throw the sinking woman the metaphorical lifesaving inner tube or even "dive in" after her. When all is said and done, they remain a winning team, whether competing in a pool, or supporting each other emotionally down through the years.
Audiences are sure to find this voyage through time and friendship a journey soaked with elements of nostalgia, loyalty and compassion, along with a great deal of laughter; The Dixie Swim Club is a team well-worth cheering for.
The show opens Fri., May 12, for two weekends, through Sun., May 21, at Lincoln Center auditorium, 935 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., while Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. They may be purchased in person at the theater on performance nights, at Lincoln Center M-F during the day, or at Evelyn Jane Boutique, 1008 Curtiss St. in downtown Downers Grove. They can also be bought by calling 630-415-3682 or online through the Grove Players website, www.groveplayers.org.