Valdosta Daily Times

February 1, 2014

Take a dip in ‘The Dixie Swim Club’

A play review

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Certain theatrical casts possess a certain magic.

They gel. The actors disappear into the characters. The characters and their relationships seem real. They achieve authenticity.

No easy feat. Even in the best productions, some relationships seem far-fetched. Sometimes, in a play, especially a comedy, the real leap of faith for an audience isn’t an over-the-top scenario but trying to picture two performers as friends, spouses or family.

Theatre Guild Valdosta’s “The Dixie Swim Club” cast achieves authenticity.

The show features five performers and five performers only. The show’s concept: Five women have been best friends since their high school swim team days. Each summer, they reunite at a beach house. The audience meets these women already in their 40s then visits them on four summers into their 70s.

The cast has a chemistry that speaks of long-time friendships. Some of that may be real-life friendships built by working together within the Theatre Guild. Some of it is their ease and talent on stage.

Whatever it is, it works.

Diane Brunston plays the no-nonsense, work-oriented Dinah. Patti Cook plays the promiscuous, vivacious, all-about-me Lexie.

Karen Cutler plays the naive, kindly Jeri Neal. Lynnette Kenworthy plays the well-organized, active, health-nut Sheree. Karen Root plays the hard-pressed, accident-prone Vernadette.

Each performer has moments when they shine separately, but this is truly an ensemble cast. They shine brightest when trading one-liners and sharing moments together.

The former swim-team characters repeatedly refer to taking a group swim. Brunston, Cook, Cutler, Kenworthy and Root include the audience in this group swim of a show.

In his directorial debut, Josh Robertson leads this funny show. He creates a setting that allows the laughs to continue from the play’s earliest moments even through what will be a tear-jerker end for many audience members. Robertson keeps the pace moving and finds a balance between emotional resonance and raucous laughter.

This is definitely a woman’s show. It’s about women.

It features women, but that doesn’t mean it’s solely for women. Granted, many in the audience Thursday night were women who attended the show in groups, but it’s a funny show that men can appreciate, too.

“The Dixie Swim Club” has something for all adult audiences, so come on in, the water’s fine ... and funny.

This review is based on the opening-night performance Thursday.