Director Ed Shea has gained the rights to Richard Greenberg’s 2003 Tony Award-winning play, “Take Me Out”, a baseball locker room tale that in many ways serves as a metaphor for life.
Shea must have had an epiphany last year, discarding his patented “no frills” theatre in the round for plays that work best on a proscenium stage.
Set designer Trevor Elliot has created an ingenious space that converts easily from the Utica Empires locker room to shower room, complete with running water. (I hope it’s warm because the team members spend a lot of time there.)
The play is further enhanced with some terrific lighting by Ron Allen, which highlights individual soliloquies, mostly by Kippy (Tim White), who serves as the fill-in-the-blanks narrator for this intense tale of prejudice and secrets among members of the double A baseball team.
Ara Boghigian plays Darren, a mixed-race gay man who is the hottest player on the team. When his secret is revealed by an ignorant “hillbilly” with his own difficult past, all hell breaks loose. Relationships and attitudes change, and the revelation has a negative effect on the team and its performance.
The dumb hillbilly who let the cat out of the bag is also the star pitcher. Jeff Church plays Shane with an intensity that will have you cringing, wondering what hurtful words will come out of his mouth next. And he doesn’t even know how “politically incorrect” he is. He has been “carefully taught” to reject anyone different than him, especially gays and blacks. Church has a scene in the third act (there are three short acts in slightly under two hours) that will make you shudder.
While “Take Me Out” is a tragic tale, there is much humor, especially from Kevin Broccoli, who plays Darren’s very gay business manager. While a bit over the top at times, Broccoli will have you laughing out loud with his lines and gestures.
Every person in the play is changed by the actions of others, especially one tragic event, and Mason is the one who changes in a positive way as he discovers the true meaning of the game.
And now a big warning. There is much male nudity. How can you take a shower or change in the locker room with your uniform on? If this offends you, don’t go. Quite honestly, it’s no big deal, and after a while you forget about it. There is also profanity and minor violence.
My only problem with the play is that it becomes very talky at times as Kippy fills in a lot of blanks to keep things flowing.
“Take Me Out” is a play that will grab you by the throat and make you think about your own prejudices and how you would react to difficult situations. It has already, by Shea’s “tell four friends” marketing technique, caused quite a stir, with four additional performances added, extending the run through Sunday, Feb. 19. Tickets are $25, with those under 21 getting in for $20. Call 247-4200 for reservations.