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Theater

Is a Play About a Gay Baseball Player Still Timely? Of Course

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Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Kippy Sunderstrom (Will Bethencourt) and Darren Lemming (Barry Brisco) in Plus One Productions' Take Me Out - SHARI BARRETT
  • Shari Barrett
  • Kippy Sunderstrom (Will Bethencourt) and Darren Lemming (Barry Brisco) in Plus One Productions' Take Me Out

The new troupe Plus One Productions' debut restages Richard Greenberg's 2002 Broadway drama Take Me Out -- about an African-American baseball star who comes out of the closet -- for a black-box setting. The production's success owes more to its Tony Award–winning material than the uneven staging (illness forced a director swap a couple days before opening -- Emanuel Millar is credited), but the all-male cast showcases several encouraging standout performances.

Barry Brisco demonstrates brilliant range as Darren Lemming, a charismatic golden boy subdued when his announcement stirs up controversy, while Kyle Colton somehow imbues Shane Mungitt, the off-balance pitcher whose casual bigotry turns explosive, with sympathetic menace.

Greenberg has a playwright's passion for the authority of speech and how language shapes reality, which he indulges in flights of reflection: Resident wise man Kippy Sunderstrom (Will Bethencourt) and Lemming's gay business manager (Richard Sabine) in particular beautifully bring these themes to light.

Note: Be prepared for plenty of shower scenes with full-frontal nudity.

Plus One Productions, Flight Theater at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; Mon., Jan. 20, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 1, 2 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 2, 8:30 p.m.; through Feb. 2. (818) 825-3153, www.plusoneproductionsla.com.


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