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Fringe Review: Start Swimming

By Colin Noden on June 15, 2018

Start Swimming
by James Fritz
Third Wall Academy

35 min / Drama / Mature

Life. No pain no gain? Or, wait for Godot?

Feeling frustrated? You’re not alone. Not sure what to do about it? Neither are the 11 people on stage. Should you go see this play? Yes. Will it give you the answer? Perhaps not, but it will get your mind going.

It’s not preachy. It leads your mind down familiar social paths, and then gives it a twist. Just when you think “Yeah, this is the answer,” or, “Aha, I think I’ve figured out who the villain of society is,” something happens.

The program notes talk about Orwell and Pavlov, and yes, there was a lot of bell-ringing, and Skinner buzzing. But the focus stayed on the ensemble. Having 11 people onstage and them all resonating the emotion at hand, makes for a powerful performance.

This was because of their total commitment. I heard the director confess to some slips in the choreography, and at one point the file page for the background lighting kicked in. But my eyes never left the actors. The group moved from one emotional state to another with a fluidity that kept my attention on the message.

Perhaps this practical lesson in social nihilism unleashed more than they intended in this defiant production. The program notes say freedom is attained by being united. But against what? The first thing that came to mind for me was the censorship of peers on social media.

I’m guessing that wasn’t what they intended.

That’s what made this play so interesting. I think they unleashed something bigger than they intended.

So what’s the point? Exactly!

The cast knit together all those random thoughts of fear and frustration you have today. They lead you down each one until you abandon hope of a solution. And then what? I’ll let you decide if you agree with their answer.


Start Swimming by James Fritz is performed at the Arts Court Library (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets Cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info.