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    Complete archive, 1999-present

    2008-2009 reviews:
  • Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell
  • beast: a parable
  • Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
  • Blasted
  • Buffalo Gal
  • China: The Whole Enchilada
  • The Corn Maiden
  • Crawl, Fade to White
  • Doruntine
  • Extraordinary Rendition
  • The First Breeze of Summer
  • Fringe Festival 2008
  • Fringe Festival favorites
  • The Glass Cage
  • Hair
  • Hidden Fees* (A Play About Money)
  • Jailbait
  • King of Shadows
  • The Longest Running Joke of the Twentieth Century
  • Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
  • Macbeth
  • The Master Builder
  • Missa Solemnis, or The Play About Henry
  • Mourn the Living Hector
  • A Nasty Story
  • Nowadays
  • the october crisis (to laura)
  • Oresteia
  • Other Bodies
  • Prayer
  • Psalms of a Questionable Nature
  • Raised by Lesbians
  • Reasonable Doubt
  • Sleepwalk With Me
  • Small Craft Warnings
  • Something Weird . . . in the Red Room
  • Soul Samurai
  • The Sound of One Hanna Clapping
  • Southern Promises
  • The Third from the Left
  • Twelfth Night
  • Voices from Guantánamo
  • The Wendigo
  • Zombie


      Never Swim Alone
    You may ask yourself, how did I get here?

    Behind the laughs in "Never Swim Alone" is a play that raises questions about how we men got to be such big, dumb, self-important lugs.


    When I was in about first grade, we used to have little-boy arguments that often devolved into, "My dad can beat up your dad," "Nuh-uh, my dad can beat up your dad." Looking back now, I laugh at the image of our 30-something dads coming out on the lawn and duking it out for King Dad of the Neighborhood. Maybe this was our little-boy idea of what it means to be a man — that you're finally big enough to settle your differences by beating one another up.

    Written by: Daniel MacIvor.
    Directed by: Timothy P. Jones.
    Cast: Douglas Dickerman, John Maria, Susan O'Connor.

    Related links: Official site
    Eventually I did grow up, and to my surprise I've never had to beat up anybody's dad. But Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor wonders, what if all the trappings of the successful modern man are really just substitute ways of measuring who's the King Dad, pacifying this primeval urge to beat one another up? So he sets up the following competition.

    Picture one of those "Master of the Universe" bond traders from Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities." Now picture another one. Both clean-cut, perfectly dressed, good job, attractive wife, good family, firm handshake. But not quite identical. How can we settle which one is really the better man? Let them fight it out in a hilarious, sarcastic, jabbing, cutting, boasting, fault-finding mano-a-mano.

    "Never Swim Alone" is a 13-round, boxing-style competition between Frank and Bill. Frank is the guy with the sharper haircut. Bill is the guy whose suit matches more perfectly. Frank made more money last year. Bill has a beautiful spread out in the suburbs. Frank has a thing going with a young receptionist. Bill at least knows where his wife was last night. Frank's taller. Bill's thinner. Frank's stronger. Bill's a little less of a jerk. May the better man win.

    Each round is refereed sternly, sometimes disapprovingly, by a woman in a swimsuit (Susan O'Connor). She's a girl — maybe just the memory of a girl — whom both men knew when they were boys at summer camp together and who may have something to do with triggering the rivalry that these two men have engaged in since childhood.

    The play raises a lot of questions about the trappings of '90s-era bull-market masculinity — job, jeep, house, clothes, haircut, stock options, wife, mistress, dog, body image and ritual violence. (If there's one glaring omission in "Never Swim Alone," it's that no cigars are smoked during the production. Thank god.) If you're a man watching this, you may ask yourself: How much of our humanity did we trade in when we bought this image of the modern superman? If you're a woman, you may ask yourself: How do we put up with these clowns?

    Or you may just blithely enjoy the ride, as Maria and Dickerman cut each other playfully and then viciously down to size in a show that demands both abundant testosterone and split-second comic timing. It all works brilliantly, and if you don't agree with me, e-mail me your dad's address. I think my dad can whup him.

    OCTOBER 26, 1999

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