40 Pools

Celebrating a Big Birthday with 40 Swims

Pool Play

on February 23, 2014

“OK, so the play was called ‘The Unicorn’ and she was the unicorn so that means that the star was my babysitter.”
–Dar Williams, “The Babysitter’s Here

Pool Play set

Last night I supported the arts and attended a drama performance in a pool! I’d heard about the production from my friend Jen, whose daughter’s babysitter was in the cast. I felt like the little girl in the Dar Williams song when said babysitter stole the show with a beautiful solo rendition of “Nightswimming,” lights dimmed and all.

Of course what we really care about is the host pool, Waterside Plaza Swim & Health Club, in the 40-year-old mini city of skyscrapers. Were it not for this play, you would not be reading about the pool here, because it is stunted in length at about 14 meters. With 8 lanes, its overall square footage is respectable, but the dimensions are wrong for lap swimming–a serious miscalculation on the part of the designers. Otherwise, it’s got a lot going for it, with East River views, poolside plants and lounge chairs, and a retractable roof. We donned ponchos and dangled our feet in the water for the 70-minute show.

A collection of skits examining people’s connections to the water, the play had both serious and lighthearted moments. My favorite scenes included water aerobics chit-chat about the foolishness of building a pool in a middle school (pay no attention, Poughkeepsie), a first-person account of segregation at public pools (true to this book reviewed here previously), and a waddle of penguins trying to muster the courage to jump in. (Having just seen the real thing in Australia, I was impressed by how realistically the actors portrayed penguins.)

Pool Play was the brainchild of a theater company that works outside traditional performance venues, and I’m glad to see this genre taking off beyond the Pink Flamingo competitions that my team often dominates. Thanks to Jen and Trudy for going with me to the show, which continues through March 8.

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