Swim Team (Nowadays Theatre) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo from Swim Team at SummerworksSwim Team, a play by Jaber Ramezani, had it’s premier on Sunday at SummerWorks. In the program it says the play is “Inspired by real stories from the world of women’s sports in post-revolutionary Iran…”

The story follows a swimming coach who moves to a place with no water after her students drown in a swimming pool, and the three young women who want her to teach them to swim.

Roya, the coach, (Banafsheh Taherian) and Lili (Parya Tahsini), Katy (Sarah Saberi). and Nari (Tina Bararian) – the students – are all wearing chadors when they first appear on stage. They wear them whenever they leave the apartment. Inside the apartment they wear swimwear. It’s such an extreme contrast.

The set is pretty basic. In the beginning it’s just a table with four stools at the back of the stage and a lovely rug in front of it. Director Aida Keykhaii uses the space in an interesting way. When the women start training the pool is made from the rug with a stool placed on each corner and rope run from stool to stool.

When the women sleep, they sleep in front of the pool.

It was interesting to see the changes in the characters as the play progressed. Initially Tahsini’s Lili was very enthusiastic and boastful. She was going to be the best and learn the fastest. When that didn’t happen she changed into someone who made excuses and was kind of a whiner.

Bararian’s Nari teased Lili a lot and didn’t seem to care when Lili got upset. She seemed to hold part of herself back, to keep something separate from the others.

Saberi’s Katy was the peacemaker, steady, calm, and reliable. Always ready to make tea for everyone, or go get blankets or heaters so the others would be warm. She was lovely.

Taherian’s Roya was interesting. At first she said no, she wouldn’t coach them but she changed her mind pretty quickly. Can you teach people to swim without water? Roya seemed to think so. She became more rigid in her training as the play progressed.

Roya had the girls imagine there was water and taught them the movements they would make swimming in it. Would  it be possible to transfer those movements to water and be able to swim? I have no idea, but it was beautiful to watch.

Imagine wanting to learn to do something so much that you do it without one crucial element.

For me the play was about the power of imagination and determination. There are four characters, all imagining something different, even if they think they’re imagining the same thing. Then I started thinking that maybe there aren’t really four characters. Maybe in all the imagination happening this is a couple characters imagining a couple more characters, or some other configuration like that.

I think it’s most likely that there are four characters all imagining the same thing or there is just one character imagining the whole thing. It doesn’t really matter, either way, it works. But it’s nice when a show can pull the strings of your imagination that way.

I enjoyed the physicality of the play. The ‘swimming’ was beautiful, it looked like a choreographed dance. I enjoyed exercising my imagination at the same time as the women were learning to swim. It’s worth seeing, I’ve been thinking about it for hours.


Swim Team plays at The Theatre Centre, Franco Boni Theatre (1115 Queen Street West).

Remaining Performances:

  • Monday August 13th 5:00pm – 6:15pm
  • Sunday August 19th 6:00pm – 7:15pm

SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online, by calling 416-732-4116, and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), open August 9-19 from 12pm-8pm. Cash and credit accepted.

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 4 shows.

Photo by Aida Keykhaii