By David F. Rooney
I have seen and reviewed a lot of Revelstoke Theatre Company productions over the last 15 years and I have to say that Never Swim Alone is one of the most engrossing plays I have ever seen.
The acting by its three-person cast — Ray Cooper as Frank, Darren McKay as Bill and Danielle Foisy as Lisa — is excellent, especially the men’s simultaneous mono/dialogues throughout this production. At first it seems like a novelty. However, you swiftly recognize it as an effective device that ratchets-up the tension as they try — as men so often do — to not only speak over one another but out-perform each other in many, many typically male ways.
Their intensely heated and ruthless competition is refereed by Lisa, a girl in a bathing suit who is, for the most part, seated in a lifeguard’s perch behind them. Her costume, like her perch and the slide show of black-and-white slides of 1960s’ summer beach scenes and Mungo Jerry’s unforgettable song In the Summertime from 1970, are enough to send every Baby Boomer swimming in time. There is a very dark reason for that.
Ray Cooper is a familiar face to many here in Revelstoke as the owner and butcher at Ray’s Butcher Shop. What some people may not know is that he was as top drama student at RSS when he graduated in 2003 and that he spent two years at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops working towards a BA with a minor in theatre before switching to the Meat Processing program in order to seek self-employment. Judging by his performance during the opening presentation of Never Swim Alone Revelstoke has been well served by both his decision to open his own butcher shop and his desire to continue acting.
Darren McKay has been member of the Revelstoke Theatre Company for 20 years, most of that time spent behind the scenes. Over the last number of years he has expanded his horizons as a director and as an actor. He brings real intensity to his role in Never Swim Alone. I hope to see more from Darren in theatrical seasons ahead.
Danielle Foisy’s interest in theatre goes back a few years to when she was 15. This is her third performance with the company and her talent shines in her role as Lisa. She is enigmatic from the moment she is uncovered at the beginning of Never Swim Alone, but by the time the play reaches its mid-point you begin to sense her true role in the masterful mystery and human drama that playwright Daniel MacIvor has crafted. I say that because Lisa is much, much more than a mere referee between two bullish men… but I won’t say more than that. You have to see this play.
Never Swim Alone is the first dinner theatre presented by the Theatre Company and The Regent is an excellent place to hold it. While I held a show-only ticket, I am no stranger to the culinary magic whipped up by its chefs. Patrons holding tickets for both the show and a meal have their choice of prime rib and wild sockeye salmon. Those dishes promise to be superb.
A word about the direction. This is Justin Smith’s debut as a theatrical director and he has obviously done very, very well. I look forward to seeing more from him.
Executive producer Martin Ralph and producer Zofie Humphreys may have been a little nervous about the reception this play would receive.
“It’s kind of exciting I do something new and different like this,” Zofie said as patrons began to gather for the first performance.
Opening night jitters are normal but the Theatre Company has a real winner with Never Swim Alone. Don’t miss it.
Never Swim Alone is being performed at The Regent Hotel on August 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. Show-and-supper tickets are $30 per person while show-only tickets are $10. Tickets are available at the Credit Union, The Regent and online. Seating is limited so please purchase tickets quickly. Show-only tickets may be available at the door. Please click here for more information.