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Swinging clubs: Take Me Out at Capital Repertory Theatre.

A Homer

By James Yeara

Take Me Out

By Richard Greenberg, directed by Kirk Jackson

Capital Repertory Theatre, through Feb. 17

For those who like the classics, Take Me Out has Homeric overtones. It has iconic heroes, one of whom, Darren Lemming (Jacques Cowart II), seems to be touched by the gods, a natural at baseball who even boasts that he is god at one point. When Lemming and his best friend (and archrival star) Davey Battle (Kevin Craig West) face off, he is Achilles battling his Hector before the fields of Troy. Though the play doesn’t strictly begin in medias res, Take Me Out’s wily narrator, shortstop Kippy Sunderstrom (William Peden), directly addresses the audience, weaving the narrative tapestry, hinting at future events that are already in his past, presenting past events as now, re-creating key elements, creating the comfort and cheer needed to speak of epic events and explore what it means to be a hero.

For fans of stagecraft, Take Me Out presents a brilliant set. Set designer Dan Conway and lighting designer Michael Giannitti create the expanse of the ballpark, the intimacy of the working shower and the weird domesticity of the locker room—as well as the luridness of this pseudo Big Apple—all on Capital Rep’s smallish stage. A symbolic baseball diamond is laid out in sand- colored wood on the bi-level floor of the stage; first and third base, the pitcher’s mound and home plate glowing with white light from within. Where second base should be are the showers; metaphorically that’s appropriate, for “getting to second base” is a flash of nudity. A bank of stadium lights in two tiers runs the width of the stage along the back wall, and director Kirk Jackson uses them to fantastic effect.

For fans of Greek tragedy, Take Me Out gives the audience larger-than-life characters with hubris like Lemming and Battle, or with hamartia like the redneck relief pitcher Shane Mungitt (Jake Suffian). There’s an inevitability to their fates that despite all, Death waits and destruction is assured.

For fans of haute couture, Take Me Out gives great ballplayer chic. Costume designer Barbara Wolfe has created a rich palette of costumes and the perfect models to strut her stuff. Colors and textures meld with characters that aid the play and please the eye.

For those who love comedy, Take Me Out is full of laughs. Lemming’s money manager Mason Marzac’s (Oliver Wadsworth) glee at acquiring the self- outing Lemming as a client, and subsequent gloating to his gay snobby neighbors about Lemming, filled the theater with laughs. Wadsworth’s Marzac was a constant source of physical humor and a wizard of comedic timing, and his work getting the audience to do the wave created howls of laughs.

For baseball fans, Take Me Out is an ode to what makes baseball as sentimental as the smell of leather, as cerebral as the contemplation of the hit and run or delayed steal as thrilling as imagining a game from a detailed scorebook that is kept with the exactness of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

For fans of acting, Take Me Out is an outstanding ensemble piece, a “murderer’s row” of performances worthy of the 1927 Yankees or the legendary 1980 lineup of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The trio of Peden, Cowart and West create main characters exact, varied, and believable. Wadsworth has added another layer to his varied collection of comedic characters, and Suffian hits for the cycle by making the inarticulate and repulsive Mungitt not just plausible, but pitiable.

For fans of theatre, Take Me Out is rife with conflict, in the shower and on the field, in ego contests in the clubhouse or out clubbing, or characters psychically wrestling with what it means when “people speak their truths.” “Truth,” it turns out, is a many-facet diamond, hard and cold, and it doesn’t just cut glass.

For fans of liberty, equality, fraternity, Take Me Out is full of the brotherhood of naked men whom women are at liberty to ogle. I sat next to two women who were the very picture of propriety when the play started. They averted their eyes embarrassed when the first penis poofed into view. At intermission they were comparing notes on their favorite penis as if Take Me Out were at the Louvre. By play’s end they were hanging out in the lobby trying to ogle the actors, stating wantonly that “some men are showers, some are growers,” then giggling lasciviously.

 


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