Rounding Third by Richard Dresser; directed by Chris Dolman
"I Don’t Judge"
Anthony Crep and Bill Allgood
Reviewed By. J. Peter Bergman
Whenever a deliberately rude, crude, sloppy and argumentative man says the words, "I don’t judge," beware! You’re probably coming face to face with a man who does little else but judge you for everything you are and everything you aren’t. This is not a man who is easy to love, or even like, even if he is sexy and powerful and interesting. Such a man is Don, one of the two men who come together to coach a little league team in Richard Dresser’s comedy, Rounding Third, now playing at the Theater Barn in New Lebanon.
Don is all about personal responsibility. He preaches at every practice and before and after every game about it. He only has two rules and they change constantly depending upon the situation. With the exception of a few small secrets which threaten to break him apart and a smarmy, small-town way of looking at the world which makes him alarmingly sympathetic at time, he is not a nice man to know and work with. His best advice to his new assistant coach Michael, the only other character in the show, is "play within yourself." It’s advice he could well take.
Michael, on the other hand, is inept, confused, obfuscating and overly fussy about everything. Where Don is obsessed with winning, Michael like the idea of baseball as fun. Where Don would risk every better human nature for the triumph at the end, Michael would sacrifice everyone else’s pleasure for the simpler joys of camaraderie and mutual enjoyment. These two men are never destined to be best friends, obviously, and Don points that out repeatedly.
Repeatedly, in fact, is the word that comes to mind most often while watching this play. Two many things are said too often and the repetition, while integral to the characters, gets boring. It also makes the play run about twenty minutes too long, for this show could get out by ten o’clock rather than 10:16 if these men would just get on with it and stop telling each other, and us, the same stuff over and over and over again.
Chris Dolman has directed Bill Allgood as Michael and Anthony Crep as Don in a crisp, assertive and belligerent fashion. Both men play their roles as written and any nuances come within the scope of the writing and force of the direction. Allgood casts sidways glances, small grimaces and odd eyerolls - each of which say more, at times, than the lines that precede them. Crep’s louder, more blustery and physical gestures, mostly accompanying lines, do the same thing basicaly. The actions speak louder than words concept clearly comes into play in Dolman’s point of view and it works nicely, helping to define moments and keep the two characters delineated.
The team of Phelps and Phelps provide a workable set by Abe and Allen’s excellent lighting for this production. Megan A. Moore has found the right costumes for her two men and the prop department, namely Michelle Blanchard, has done an excellent job as well.
Liking baseball, and little league in particular, will help while watching this play. Enjoying a father’s love for his son also helps. Much is made of the two men’s sons, both of them initially on the team. When one of them leaves mid-season to take up other interests the proverbial shipwreck of a father’s life takes place. It’s the beginning of the end, in some ways, but it doesn’t shorten the play. This is a good take on how men cooperate in spite of differences, but it’s a slightly tedious evening of theater.
◊ 09-09-2006 ◊
Rounding Third plays at The Theater Barn in New Lebanon, New York, through September 17. Tickets are $20, $18 for the Sunday matinee. For information or tickets call 518-794-8989