Take Me Out
18/08/2006 - 23/09/2006
Written by Richard Greenberg
Directed by Shane Bosher
Finally, a play with balls.
Darren Lemming is the epitome of a baseball star. Living life large, male as can be, envied by everyone. As the centre-fielder of the Empires, he’s handsome, charismatic, articulate, rich and infallible on the field. But when he casually chooses a mid-season press conference to announce that he’s gay, he assumes the news will be readily accepted by everyone. It isn’t.
The boys in the locker room will never be the same. We chronicle the fallout from his actions as the news spreads through the team, the media and across the nation.
Sex, celebrity, friendship, bigotry and the thrill of the game. When sport wrestles with its final taboo, TAKE ME OUT hits a homerun in every way.
WINNER TONY AWARD: BEST PLAY 2003
Fasitua Amosa, Craig Hall, Jeff Szusterman, Edwin Wright, Paul Barrett, David Van Horn, Mark Ruka, Jerome Matthews, Jarod Rawiri, Nathan Whitaker & Andy Wong
set designed by John Verryt
costumes designed by Elizabeth Whiting with Victoria Ingram
lighting designed by Jeremy Fern
music composed by Andrew McMillan
2 hours, 40 minutes, incl. 2 short intervals
Life, men, communication, intolerance, death and the naked truth
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 22nd Aug 2006
Thank you, Shane Bosher, for casting aside your initial concerns about the logistical challenges Take Me Out presents for a small venue such as The Silo, and mounting it anyway. This play is extraordinary.
Greenberg’s script is compelling, as he brings his audience into the sacred ground of the locker rooms and showers of a top American Baseball team, during the fallout caused by the team’s star player announcing he is gay.
The central character, Darren Lemming, (played with sharp confidence by Fasitua Amosa) expects little to change, in this millennium of perceived tolerance. But as his fellow players, coach, acquaintances and fans reveal their true nature, we are drawn into this "difficult time" for all.
Greenberg’s 3 act structure takes us on a series of unexpected twists and turns, as each act delves further and further into the psyche of those involved with – and who worship with religious like fervour – the world of baseball. Some can reason with Lemming’s news, and accept it. Others just simply can’t cope, saying and doing the inconceivable. The parallels to New Zealand’s love affair with rugby, and Greg McGee’s treatment of it in Foreskin’s Lament, are strong.
Greenberg’s writing is intriguing, such as when he speaks of the similarities between baseball and democracy, yet also full of simple honesty, such as when Lemming states what should be so obvious: "My sexuality is not your problem." And later, when he reveals what he needs because of his temperament, rather than his sexual preference: "I don’t want compassion, I want to be envied".
With Bosher at the helm, The Silo’s production of Take Me Out serves Greenberg’s work brilliantly.
Clean yet innovative lighting design (Jeremy Fern) and set design (John Verryt) bring the audience in the team’s changing rooms, with running showers and all. Full credit to all in the creative and technical team, for transforming The Silo into such a workable yet dynamic space.
From where I was sitting, scenes involving the full squad were wholeheartedly satisfying, not only because – naked and wet – this fine cast of men were visually stunning (I’m only human), but because even those playing minor roles, with minimal dialogue, (David Van Horn, Andy Wong, Jarod Rawiri, Jerome Matthews and Nathan Whiitaker), were uniformly persuasive.
However, for me, the most gripping moments come from Lemming’s one on one scenes with key characters. He seeks guidance from his overbearing friend Davey (stridently played by Mark Ruka to great effect), answers from fellow team-mate Kippy, (a role Craig Hall takes on with intelligent ease), respect from his Skipper (Paul Barrett – brilliant, as always), and confrontation from redneck team-mate Shane Mungitt (a riveting performance by Edwin Wright).
Bosher’s casting and smooth direction delivers a home run on all fronts, but stand out honours must go to Jeff Szusterman, as Lemming’s financial advisor. As he skips from geek to gushy child-like fan, from astute businessman to overly enthusiastic admirer, he is quite simply a delight to watch in this role.
Life, men, communication, intolerance, death and the naked truth. On an intimate level. Compelling theatre.
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