Monday, November 1, 2021

NEVER SWIM ALONE at the Open fist


        Bryan Bertone, Emma Bruno and
    Dylan Maddalena in ‘Never Swim Alone’
                                                       Photo by Darrett Sanders 

Daniel MacIvor's companion piece to "The Soldier Dreams" is a stark little ditty that harkens here and there to Beckett, over to Mamet and maybe off to see Tom Stoppard for a minute in about thirteen rounds of wicked competition between Bryan Bertone as Frank  and Dylan Maddalena as Bill (Frank is just a smidgen taller than Bill). The guys are all watched over by the lovely Referee (Emma Bruno ). What is The Point and why will we race there? 

As with "The Soldier Dreams", the characters take moments to reveal their inner thoughts with a rhythm that makes the ensemble piece a piece of music on the beach.

MacIvor's voice reaches past the obvious into the heart of these stories.  The purporse beyond the poetry?  Director Amanda Weier, brings the subtext to the surface and the title "Never Swim Alone" though only slightly obscure, may reveal itself as the two men banter: thrust and parry and riposte to an uncomfortable conclusion.

Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" comes to mind with the competition. The often raw and rugged voice of David Mamet slices, especially as we hurtle to the end, racing to the Point. The obscurity of Beckett (unless you find Godot clear as a bell) is seasoning for the stew.  I found the rhythms and the strong ensemble feeling, even with just three characters, to be delicious and equal to the joy derived from well choreographed dance.  It is almost Pina Bausch.  

As Bill, Maddalena represents, perhaps, the gentler more thoughtful side of what may be the same person.  As Frank, Bertone, the slightly taller and ultimately more aggressive guy wearing  suspenders dishes out some heavy stuff.  

The competition between Frank and Bill dates to boyhyood when they spent terrific summers together, lusted, as boys will do and as the men they have become, they wrangle their odd relationship back and forth between the last, very last day of summer on a fateful childhood day that we find in the title of the piece and the men they have become.    Emma Bruno as the Referee and the beach beauty, Lisa, holds the piece together beautifully. From her life guard stand she keeps the boys in check with a sharp little whistle. She's spot on creating the teen Lisa for the final swim to the "Point".. 

Of course, the point is to "never swim alone" and when acting in this play,  you'd best wear a cup. 

I was asked by the director which of the two MacIvor productions I preferred.  Fact is that both plays are well written, well directed and well acted pieces of theatre. Never Swim is short and to the point with huge challenges to the men who recite in perfect cadence in some speeches winding up one upping one another. Or not.

See both plays.  This playwright's voice is strong and even though the plays are from 1991 (Never Swim) and 1997 (The Soldier Dreams) each is relevant in its own way.  Jan Munroe's simple set leaves it virtually all up to the cast to make Never Swim Alone come to life. 

Please get to The Open Fist for both MacIvors. You won't be disappointed.


by Daniel MacIvor

Directed by Amanda Wiere

Oct. 30 thru Nov. 21only:
 Open Fist Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Previews Oct. 16 – 18
Performances: Oct. 23 – Dec. 12
Saturday at 4 p.m. (The Soldier Dreams): Oct. 23 ONLY (Press Opening)

Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. (The Soldier Dreams):Oct. 16 (preview), Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 13, Nov. 20, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 (dark Nov. 27)
Saturdays at 10 p.m. (Never Swim Alone): Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov. 13, Nov. 20
Sundays at 6 p.m. (Never Swim Alone): Oct. 31, Nov. 7, Nov. 14, Nov. 21
Sundays at 7 p.m. (The Soldier Dreams): Oct. 17 (preview), Oct. 24, Oct. 31, Nov. 7, Nov. 14, Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12
Mondays at 8:15 p.m. (The Soldier Dreams): Oct. 18 (preview), Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 29, Dec. 6

Atwater Village Theatre

3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(FREE parking in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater)

(323) 882-6912 or

Join us on facebook:
Follow us on twitter: @OpenFistTheatre

Admission to both plays is by donation.

Recommended donation to The Soldier Dreams: $20
Recommended donation to Never Swim Alone: $15
Recommended donation to see both plays in a single evening: $25

• Proof of vaccination required of all patrons.
• Admittance limited to ages 12+.
• Masks required throughout the performance.
• Open Fist Theatre Company ensures that theater ventilation systems are up to the
recommended standard for COVID-19 protection.
• As long as the rate of COVID transmission in Los Angeles County remains “substantial,” household groups will be separated by six feet on all sides.


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