Broadway’s Take Me Out is an explosive, fun baseball game

The old saying “there’s no crying in baseball” gets a shellac in the fantastic revival of the play “Take Me Out,” which premiered Monday night on Broadway.

Written by Richard Greenberg in 2002, the show examines the possible consequences of high-paying athletes pumping their emotions to the breaking point for fan entertainment. The pitfalls of America’s favorite pastime, the play argues, could lead to disaster.

theater criticism

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes with a break. At the Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St.

In the drama, which – be warned – features a lot of male nudity from the front, midfielder Darren Lemming (Jesse Williams) of a fictional team called the Empires is abruptly revealed to his teammates and the press as gay. Darren, defensively quick-witted, is apathetic to his own revelation, refusing to elaborate and believing there will be no consequences. And for a while he’s right.

But when Shane Mungitt (Michael Oberholtzer), a bigoted pitcher, joins the Empires and starts spreading racist and anti-gay slurs on TV, the mood in the dressing room crumbles. Some wonder if Darren’s admission hurts the team. Should his life be more important than the game? It’s not a spoiler to say we’ll never meet MLB’s head of human resources.

Greenberg’s play, directed by Scott Ellis, seems less hypothetical today than it did 20 years ago. Since then, high-profile Olympians like Gus Kenworthy, tom daley and others have come out. So too Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib.

And apart from discussions about sexuality, the question of the emotional state of athletes has also been brought to the fore by the likes Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. We are beginning to wonder if long-tolerated outbursts of violence by athletes like tennis player Alexander Zverev are actually harmful and potentially dangerous to others.

Empires are having a wild season in "take me out"
Empires are in for a wild season in Take Me Out.
Johanna Marcus

However, “Take Me Out” is not an essay by a sports psychologist. It’s a tight and exciting game – and far more propulsive than your average spring ball game – that thankfully doesn’t delve into the endless sensitivities and triggers of 2022. Most of the scenes take place in the tense dressing room, and there’s an authenticity to the players’ fear and jibes that wouldn’t exist if the script had been scrubbed clean by a modern-day propaganda officer from a non-profit organization. The show has belly laughs and lots of grit.

It helps that any performer could be mistaken for an actual ball player, which is not the case for most New Yorkers who have earned their MFA in acting. Williams, who is very good at being shy and cold, resembles our modern, suave baseball stars who own penthouses and wear designer clothes off the field. Whenever he was on stage, I couldn’t stop thinking about Rockies third baseman Kris Bryant.

Patrick J. Adams is hilarious as Kippy, the team’s narrator and well-balanced big brother. Julian Cihi snarls as ace pitcher Takeshi Kawabata, who doesn’t speak a word of English and gets annoyed with his irritating cohorts. Carl Lundstedt is Toddy, a cocky and bold fool; Tyler Lansing Weaks is Jason, a sweet and well-meaning goof; and Hiram Delgado and Eduardo Ramos are Martinez and Rodriguez boisterously taunting the others in Spanish.

However, the two most intriguing roles are Davey Battle (Brandon J. Dirden) and Mason Marzac (Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

Battle is Darren’s best friend and a rival from another team who is deeply religious and encourages Darren to be open and honest with himself – at least that’s how Darren interprets his wisdom. Dirden plays battle like a teddy bear with a jackknife.

Mason, nicknamed “Mars”, is Darren’s gay business manager who suddenly becomes interested in baseball when his client comes out. The lonely outcast soon becomes an obsessive fan who lives and breathes the sport. If baseball made it harder for Darren to be gay, the game is Mars’ long-awaited liberation. A warm and relatable departure from the Meatheads, Ferguson beautifully captures the exhilaration and intensity of being a fan. Its performance isn’t 100% there yet, but it will be.

Don’t come to “Take Me Out” for the feel-good uplift you got from “Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own” — come to the Stollen Theater for 100 mph, dirt.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/04/broadways-take-me-out-is-an-explosive-funny-baseball-play/ Broadway’s Take Me Out is an explosive, fun baseball game

Dais Johnston

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