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TAKE ME OUT

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Baseball is still America's pastime. Even though football and maybe even basketball draw bigger audiences on television, baseball, because of its 162-game schedule and relatively inexpensive ticket prices, is where families can gather to root for their favorite teams and players. It's truly a team sport, in which occasionally a superstar slugger with a 10-RBI game or a superstar pitcher with a no-hitter can dominate the proceedings, but it usually takes a fine-tuned team of nine men to capture the golden ring of the World Series. In his incisive and award-winning play, Richard Greenberg points out that baseball is a game of threes—three strikes, three outs—or multiples thereof—nine men, nine innings. A well-oiled team will still lose games, but the teamwork will get them through. Any distraction from the norm, such as a superstar outfielder announcing he's gay, can throw the team and the baseball world into a tailspin. That's exactly what happens in Greenberg's play.

This production is basically a remounting of the Tony Award–winning Broadway show, including the work of director Joe Mantello, scenic designer Scott Pask, costume designer Jess Goldstein, sound designer Janet Kalas, and lighting designer Kevin Adams. The direction and the tech elements are top-notch. The all-male cast of 11 is mostly new to the work, but the actors mesh marvelously with one another and with Greenberg's words.

Take Me Out is a play of words and ideas, more than one of action. An outsider, who is a nebbishy gay accountant, waxes poetic about the sport and life in general in several memorable monologues; T. Scott Cunningham hits a home run with his delightfully droll and superbly comic performance. M.D. Walton provides a strong presence as the superstar whose gay revelations set off a chain reaction that leads to tragedy on the ball field. Doug Wert, as his best friend on the team and the play's narrator, displays an easy naturalness in his performing. Harlon George provides the requisite macho redneck surliness needed for his. The play's in-your-face nudity in the shower scenes is natural and is not the raison d'être of this piece. Greenberg's poetic images and stunning wordplay are, and director Mantello and his talented cast bare their all dramatically to stunning effect.

"Take Me Out," presented by and at the Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego. Tue.-Wed. 7 pm, Thu.-Fri. 8 pm, Sat. 2 & 8 pm, Sun. 2 & 7 pm. Jan. 20-Feb. 20. $19-55. (619) 234-5623.

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