Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
The Sweet Delilah Swim Club
The Sweet Delilah Swim Club is a very funny and sometimes hilarious play directed by longtime Jones Hope Wooten fan Georgia Athearn. It is either the third, or possibly the fourth, play by the authors (Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten) that Athern has directed on this same stage.
Just like the characters in Doublewide Texas (also by Jones Hope Wooten), each woman has a distinct and clearly defined personality, and I, along with the opening night audience, watched them navigate and sometimes meander all the way through to their seventies, spouting some of the funniest lines I have heard in years.
Well cast, this production features the talents of some well-known, and some new to the Albuquerque, female actors–all who bring their own unique flavor to their characters.
Native New Yorker Gloria Goodman's four times divorced Lexie, whose man-eating tendencies mask her underlying insecurities, is not in the least perturbed when her friend Sheree describes, to everyone's amusement, Lexie's next potential victim as someone who puts "the Oh! in speedo," thus giving us all a mental picture whether we wanted one or not. Ex-nun and first-time mother Jerri Neal, played by well-known local actress Margie Maes, bemoaning that dressing her child is akin to "putting socks on an octopus," retains her perennially Pollyanna outlook throughout the play. Sweet and funny, she is surprisingly adept and successful in the layman's world.
Dinah Grayson, executive type and financially successful attorney, who cynically opines that she should "soften and marinate herself," under the capable guidance of another local actress Jennifer Benoit, takes a surprising lover later in the play and evolves into a matured, well-rounded character who learns to embrace her feminine side in a world still dominated by men. With an almost pathological need for organization, micro-managing but loving mother hen Sheree Hollinger, played by Rhonda Ware–who nurtures her character into a softer, more considerate woman with a surprisingly sentimental side–is so consistently and carefully protected from the truth about her culinary talents by her long-time friends, she never realizes she too, has a flaw.
Rounding up the quintet of actors is Washington DC transplant Robin Havens-Parker. Her Vernadette (where do they get these names?) is outwardly tough and capable with a cynicism so based in reality as to be hilarious regardless of the situation. Even if we can't identify with her, we probably know someone with a similar viewpoint and experience. Havens-Parker is the absolute standout in this production, flawlessly delivering Vernadette's hilarious advice, observations, and self-deprecating comments. Her delivery of her final line almost broke my heart. I'm sure I won't be the only person following this newcomer's career with interest.
A well deserved mention must go to costumer Nancy Sellin. I don't know where she acquired the sometimes atrocious outfits, which are actually perfect, and I love and appreciate the detail on the clown shoes.
Michael Klein, with lighting, and Banx Teneorio, providing sound design, run the board beautifully. I loved the choice and placement of the music. The sound of the rain is a bit odd and distracting, but the thunderstorm is perfect. Kudos to set designer Linda Wilson for a very busy but workable set. And finally, a shout out to Terri Klein (herself a poet and playwright of some renown) and her crew, who stage managed this production to a very successful opening night.
The Sweet Delilah Swim Club runs through August 14, 2022, at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW, Albuquerque NM. Friday and Saturday evenings performances start at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. General admission $20, discount $17 (seniors, students, ATG/PBS members, military, first responders) and PWYW Thursday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. For information and tickets, please visit www.adobetheater.org.