BWW Review: BALL YARDS Fumbles
Playwright Chuck Faerber should be applauded for including the many current day issues that he squeezes into this 90-minute BALL YARDS, a collection of semi-related sketches, some succeeding more than others. This world premiere comedy directed by Richard Kuhlman tackles: anti-Semitism, the Ku Klux Klan, transgender transitioning, marketing spin at its most transparent desperation, drug trafficking, feminism.
Some exchanges would make striking audition scenes as stand-alone pieces. The seven cast members hold their own, especially in the following scenes:
A locker room set-up has star athlete Conquistador O'Malley (a convincing Christopher T. Wood) inviting reporter Ginny/Jimmy (a powerful Scott Keiji Takeda) for an exclusive interview and, hopefully, a shower together. This scene's dynamics explode and engage like no other.
Byron Hays and Mike Ross as co-radio announcers Art and Irv exhibit a most believable and comfortable rapport as two men working side-by-side for years. Their on-air dialogue ping-pong smoothly back and forth between them. Then when Art's breaking down, Irv's right there to encourage and support the return of his sanity.
The tension and the rightfully suspicious animosity of Olympic hopeful Jan Berman (a delightful Marissa Drammissi) counterpoints wonderfully to the unnamed TV Producer's snake oil methods (effectively played by John Marzilli as a high-octane, caffeine-fueled, sell-out-your-own-mother corporate conman). Drammissi also doubles as a cheerleader at various times, effortlessly demonstrating her high kicks and deep splits.
Matt Shea, as the poetry authority Poet Laureate, goes from low, low energy in his opening monologue to high, high in his later manic exchanges.
Opening scene, set at a Atlanta golf course with the affable Ross as golf pro Jordan Guy giving a lesson to a barely-speaking Marzilli (completely hidden in his Grand Keagle white uniform of an eye-holed, peaked cowl and flowing robes) could have used some judicious editing.
As impressive in speed and intensity is Takeda's rapping, Hays' comedic rap communicated more comprehensively. Both Takeda's and Hays' strong vocals receive proper exhibition during their respective solos.
Set designer Gary Lee Reed's basic, bare-bones set with revolving panels eliminates the necessity (and time) for set changes.