Office Space

'Swimmers' explores human connection— and lack thereof

Swimmers, by Rachel Bonds, is a gorgeously poetic play about that specific form of crushing loneliness that can only be felt in the presence of other people, and it’s beautifully performed by a large company of 11 actors.

Presented by Marin Theatre Company and directed with detailed precision and immense humanity by Mike Donahue, the play is structured as an interconnected series of scenes taking place on the same day, each on a different floor of a large office building.

Tom (Aaron Roman Weiner), begins his morning cowering in the basement in the grip of a full-on existential emergency. The custodian, Walter (L. Peter Callender), juggles a series of casual conversations with various tasks. Vivian (Kristin Villanueva) nervously starts a new job in a new department. Over the course of the play, other workers appear, talking but rarely connecting—until suddenly, in an unexpected place, some of them actually do.

The documentary-level realness of the performances becomes a perfectly unified mechanism for carrying Bonds’ remarkable dialogue and persistent ideas. As a writer, she accomplishes a lot with what might seem to be very little, and in so doing, leaves a ripple of strong emotions, both devastating and gently hopeful, in the wake of her words.