Girl meets Girl. Girl meets Boy. Boy meets Shark. It reminds me of the popcorn containers that have three sections, and each section has a different flavor. Well, that is exactly what is happening at convergence-continuum in the historic Liminis theatre. The offering is Adam Bock’s SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS, directed by Lisa L. Wiley. And, oh yes, we jump right back down the rabbit hole for some surrealist adventures.
This is a fast-paced, frenetic journey of vignettes and scenes that explore personal relationships, examining the group dynamic, and how couples and individuals play their part in the big picture. But, it is a trippy experience. The story centers on Barb (Amy Bistok Bunce), who finds out that Buddhist monks in Thailand only own eight things and wonders if that is all she wants. She starts giving away her things, but her husband Bob (Robert Branch) keeps buying her new ones. Donna (Monica Zach) wants Carla Carla (Linda Sekanic) to marry her, but Carla Carla doesn’t like that Donna smokes. Nick (Zac Hudak) falls in love with a shark (Ryan Edlinger) at the aquarium. They go on a date to the beach, and Nick tries not to sleep with the shark too fast. Plus dream sequences. Plus a wedding. The agenda is full for the evening.
The one who made me laugh the most was Bunce. Her delivery is a scream. It was so much fun watching how tortured she was making all of her decisions, and her bluntness was executed with such comedic excellence that I had a giggle fest with her. Branch playing her husband Bob was great as well. He has a very confident stage presence, and watching him slowly self-destruct as the play went on was enjoyable. I sound so sadistic, don’t I? But it is fun, Branch is like a blooming onion losing a layer every scene he is in, and that was some good stuff.
Sekanic and Zach could star in the new Netflix series “Angst is the new Black.” Sekanic and Zach have a great time with each other, and so do we, with their version of “SmokingGate.” Sekanic is a brooding blast and she navigates marital issues while wearing sensible shoes. And Zach is properly emotional in getting and not getting married in record time. These two are fun and you find yourself ready to dance at their wedding in an invitation heartbeat.
Nick and the Shark. Sounds like a sitcom ready to happen. But in this case the fierce and sexy shark is Edlinger, pursued with boy crush enthusiasm by Hudak. Hudak is on fire here, whether giving lesbian life advice at a moment’s notice, bringing Grinder to a halt for overload issues, or trying to play coy with a shark that has a great mouth. Good stuff. And Edlinger is trippy fun as the available shark who beaches himself on dates, and not suicide missions, just for love. Edlinger has a great look and gives great shark face to the surreal elements of the show.
However, there are some distractions. The transitions from scene to scene seem very choppy, and as a result, there isn’t a smooth momentum that gets generated. I am assuming this occurs mostly as a result of the lighting design, and directorial decisions. And the end of the play seemed so abrupt, it was awkward. Hopefully, these issues will resolve themselves as the run progresses.
The technical elements were in good order. Stage Manager Eric Sever called a great show. Lighting Design Cory Molner (loved the shark tank effect). Set Design Molner and Clyde Simon (effectively simple, and the beach front was cool), Sound Design Simon (clear and fun music choices), Costume Design Scott Zolkowski (nice shark and wedding), and Video Design Tom Kondilas (clear and effective).
All of these characters are battling the small stuff as they try to connect with each other and simply love. It seems to me that Adam Bock is making that point for us; that we spend most of our lives swimming in the shallows of life, instead of coming up for air and seeing the bigger picture. It is time for so many of us to get out of the shallow end of the pool, stand on the deck and love yourself, and then look out into the sky and realize that you are the only thing that is holding you back. Thank you for the funny lesson I think I just learned.
Oh and by the way, the wedding dance scene is amazing.
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$10-$15 General Admission
2438 Scranton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113