In a psych class I took once, the teacher split us into two groups. Group A simply sat and smiled while Group B had to look at them without smiling at all ... which turned out to be impossible. And I kept thinking about that through the whole performance of Dixie Swim Club, at South Park Theatre.
Five women, formerly on the same school swimming team, still meet once a year, at a beach cottage in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, from the 1970s to the present day.
And that's it. Writers Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten don't waste a second on anything as solid as plot, instead spending two hours pumping out some serious bubbly froth that disappears almost as fast as you can get a look at it.
In the normal course of things, a play like this would have turned my skin clammy and my stomach nauseous ... but there's something about Dixie Swim Club that somehow manages to inoculate you against its own sweetness.
Like that long ago psych class, it feels like the writers were just sitting across from me with huge smiles plastered on their faces ... and I didn't have any option but to smile back.
Maybe it's because this play is extremely good-natured, and Jones, Hope and Wooten don't for a moment try to trick it up into something "important." It's literally just these women connecting and reconnecting over the years. It's light and breezy with nothing on its brain other than making you smile.
It helps that the South Park production goes down as smoothly as the script. Directed with heartfelt honesty by Lorraine Mszanski, the cast of five -- Laura Ferguson, Naomi Grodin, Pat Samreny, Sandy Boggs and Kathleen Caliendo -- play with such skill and integrity, and form such a strong ensemble, that a big smile hardly seems out of place.
Dixie Swim Club continues through June 5. South Park Theatre, Corrigan Drive and Brownsville Road, South Park. 412-831-8552 or www.southparktheatre.com