Stamford Theatre Works, 200 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford
It’s all in the timing, and Stamford Theatre Works’ artistic director Steve Karp has it right on target. Just as the World Series gets under way, Karp chooses to mount a drama about baseball!
The focus for playwright Richard Dresser’s “Rounding Third,” however, is not on the Big Games--but rather Little League. This entertaining little piece deals with two coaches of very different ilk who fight and struggle and ultimately bond, as they bring in a winning team.
Don, the coach, is a macho type, a house painter who swigs beer and exhorts his boys to win at any cost. Winning is all. Michael, his new assistant coach, is a businessman, who arrives at the field in suit and tie, with cell phone and briefcase in hand. He has no knowledge of the game, but wants to involve his son (actually his step-son) in sports. “The fun is in the playing,” he tells the boys, “not the winning and the losing.” Michael’s comment brings a look of deep disgust to Don’s face.
“Rounding Third” is a simple, obvious tale, which tends to be amusing at times, but repetitious at other times. The material is thin and the direction the story takes is all too predictable. One can see the wrap-up coming within the first page of dialogue.
What does save the day, however, are the actors themselves, who make the most of their material. They play off each other effectively, under Karp’s direction. In particular, Marco Verna is a most convincing Don, actually seeming to get inside the skin of the beer-swigging outrageous coach. Christopher Cass, in the less engaging role, nevertheless works well in tandem with Verna. Karp also puts background tapes to good use, with the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat rounding out the staging.
In all, not a deeply challenging work, but one which offers an evening of good escapist entertainment as Verna goes through his antics.
-- -Irene Backalenick
Oct. 26, 2007