Performing Arts: Theater
April 16, 2022
Richard Greenberg's play, Take Me Out centers on a beloved Major League center fielder, Darren Lemming's (Jesse Williams) public coming-out. No drama, no explanations--just a simple statement -- this comes after signing one of the League's most lucrative contracts.

Almost 20 years ago, Greenberg's Pulitzer-nominated play raised eyebrows and stunned eyes. Nowadays, when a sportsperson reveals they are gay, the news might be surprising, but its not shocking. In 2003, "coming out" could be scandalous and ruinous. That said, it's hard to believe that even to this day, no Major League baseball athlete has admitted to being gay.

Fall-out from Darren, a star player's announcement, rocks the team and rabid baseball fans. A popular player, he keeps to himself with the exception of his friend the cerebral Kippy Sunderstrom (Patrick J. Adams) and another pal, Davey (Brandon J. Dirden). Soon after his revelation, Darren hires Mason Marzac (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) to handle his money.

Adept at navigating live audiences, Ferguson's comedic timing packs multiple home-runs. Openly gay, Mason becomes an unintended baseball fan and unexpected friend to the "too cool" and deeply remote Darren.

Another thread tugged by Greenberg contemplates baseball's mystifying claim on the American psyche. While some consider baseball boring and deadly slow, others claim it is poetically meditative and spiritual.

Sexual politics and baseball's poetic allure intertwine in a complex tale of identity and recognition. When a power pitcher from the South joins the ranks, the team hits a blaze of winners. In an interview, the lanky, and woefully undereducated Shane is asked about his relationship to the team. Shanes responds by releasing a string of offensive slurs denigrating just about every single person on the team.

The cascade of slurs sounds like a baby vocalizing a long thread of words they heard, but didn't understand. This episode pierces the team and finally forces Darren to come to terms with himself.

Nimbly directed by Scott Ellis, the action pops while tossing the sinewy narration from Kippy to Darren; Mason to the nearly illiterate Shane Mungitt (Michael Oberholtzer). Primarily set in the men's baseball locker room and shower stall, Take Me Out is awash in white bath towels and "stop and gaze at the audience" frontal nudity.

Led by the charismatic Williams, the finely-tuned ensemble cast includes the convincing Adams and hilarious Ferguson. For those who are fans of these three actors from their popular TV shows "Grey's Anatomy," "Suits" and "Modern Family"----you will not be disappointed.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

©2001 Eye and Dance and the Arts | All Rights Reserved