SummerWorks review: Swim Team

SWIM TEAM by Jaber Ramezani (Nowadays Theatre). At the Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre. Aug 13 at 5 pm, Aug 19 at 6 pm. See listing. Review: NNNN

In post-revolution Iran, a coach and her three aspiring female athletes attempt to practise swimming in an imaginary pool something that soon becomes a powerful metaphor for the limitations on women in a restrictive society.

Playwright Jaber Ramezani and director Aida Keykhaii effectively take their time revealing information about the era and the women’s objective. Coach Roya (Banafsheh Taherian) is a strong presence from the start (and Taherian is an endlessly watchable performer), and gradually the personalities of the young swimmers nervous, tentative Lili (Parya Tahsini), follower Katy (Sarah Saberi) and rebel Nari (Tina Bararian) emerge.

While the opening sequence, in which the women, in full hijab, try unsuccessfully to move a sofa into a room, doesn’t evolve as a symbol, and Roya’s recurring story about Michael Phelps is a tad confusing, this show, about the power of the imagination, has lots of potential for further development.

And the calm, measured way the fantasy swimming pool is constructed has a hypnotic power to it.

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