Article Title:Take Me Out: A comedy with balls, brain and heart
Author or Credit:John Curry
Published on:2nd August 2006 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1367
Text:Shane Bosher and his Silo Theatre team have hit an audience-thrilling home run with Take Me Out. It's not only a 'comedy with balls' (and pricks!), it's a comedy with a brain and a huge, pulsating, throbbing heart. It has some spooky parallels with our home-grown sports play hit Foreskin's Lament, and like that play (and Silo's previous gay smash Boys in the Band), Take Me Out is about the struggle to be yourself while remaining part of 'the group'. In Take Me Out the group in question is a professional baseball team. Their star player, Darren Lemming (mmm, Lemming? now, is that name meaningful?) outs himself and - surprise, surprise - things change. If Fasitua Amosa doesn't quite capture the gay jock's naivety (or is that dumbness?), he seems completely convincing as a pro sportsman. And he has no trouble being that alpha male type who won't - or can't - let anyone get too close. It's one of the play's ironies that the guy who sparks the ruckus by trying to reveal his 'true self' remains something of an enigma. Or maybe he's just the most ordinary guy on the team? As a baseball neophyte and something of a sports phobic, my heart sank as the play began and the jargon (enunciate, please, Mr Craig Hall) went whistling way over my head. But the author, Richard Greenberg, must have known I'd be in the audience because he provided the play's most likeable (and queerest) character as a guide to the heart of baseball's mystery. Mason Marzac (oh, those names!) is also a baseball virgin but once he becomes the gay star's 'business manager' he makes it his business to learn more about the game and - as his rapturous monologues convey - he becomes hooked. Played by Jeff Szusterman, this is a sensational performance, a blend of humility and pushiness, tenderness and fear, ignorance and spluttering testosterone-driven yearning. Memorable he is! Among the rest of an ace team, Mr Amosa gets mighty support from Craig Hall as the team's Mr Nice Guy, Kippy Sunderstrom. Mr Hall is so nice it hurts, and his declaration of 'love' for his beleagured team mate certainly brought a lump to this old cocksucker's throat. Similarly, Edwin Wright is depressingly electrifying as the hate-filled redneck with the sad childhood behind him, a stammer in his inarticulate throat and a huge chip on his shoulder. His final outburst was the kind they call 'palpable'. Andy Wong brought a zen-like, elegiac moment of quiet to the mix, while Jerome Matthews and Jarod Rawiri did just the opposite with their hotter-than-the-hottest-chilli Latino outburst. But it was the confrontation between Mr Amosa and Mark Ruka as his ex best mate, that will ring most bells for a kiwi audience. Mr Ruka's was a spell-binding turn as the religious guy batting indeed for the other team. The production carries a nudity warning and yes, you won't remember a word that was said during the first shower scene. But it's the second shower scene that has most to say about 'vulnerability', masculine or otherwise. Julia Roberts' fans probably know that Mr Greenberg was her playwright of choice when she made her Broadway debut. He certainly knows how to deliver the goods, though I felt there was a bit too much narration and, yes, some might find the baseball thing something of a challenge. But gay guys love sport. I know. I spent last Saturday night surrounded by them in the Wingate lounge watching the All Blacks tussle with the Wallabies. So, hop on down to the Silo and watch Mr Amosa and his team do quite a bit of tussling, some of it profound, some of it distressing but all of it entertaining. John Curry - 2nd August 2006    
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