“Take Me Out” featuring Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson/Queerty

(left to right) Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Williams in Take me out. Photo by Joan Marcus

Welcome to Curtain Call, our predominantly queer version of the latest theater openings on Broadway and beyond.

The summary:

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (modern family) and Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) co-star in a revival of take me out, the Tony Award-winning play by Richard Greenberg about how the exit of a major league baseball player triggers a chain of events. There’s been a lot of buzz around the locker room and head-shower scenes, but the biggest eye-opener is the continued relevance of LGBTQ representation in professional sports. With witty and spiteful points of view, Greenberg’s dense script is like a pitch for change – methodical and deliberately misleading in its gripping construction.

No tea, no shade:

Playwright Richard Greenberg loves words. And throughout his more than 30-year Broadway career, actors from Julia Roberts and Judith Light to Paul Rudd and Mario Cantone have savored them or vomited them up, depending on what the dramatic moment demands.

The revival cast of take me out joins the ranks, devouring his methodical riffs on toxic masculinity, dual minorities, socio-economic disparities and baseball’s cultural heritage. If this all sounds as heavy as a chili dog slathered in Cheez Whiz, fear not; director Scott Ellis sets up his team for a big win, aided by effective stage design by David Rockwell and perfectly executed sensory stimulators through lighting design by Kenneth Posner and stadium sound effects by Bray Poor.

take me out
The cast of take me out. Photo by Joan Marcus

From the start of the play, when ballplayer Kippy (Patrick J. Adams) says, “After all, if he hadn’t done the thing, the next thing wouldn’t have happened,” the blame game is In progress. This “thing” Kippy is referring to is the team’s star center fielder, Darren Lemming (Jesse Williams), who goes out in public. And the things that happen next get ugly.

Related: Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick deliver three acts of one-liners but few laughs in ‘Plaza Suite’

With millions in the bank and a solid career ahead of him, Darren’s invincibility seems untouchable despite some sneers from the clubhouse. But when rude minor leaguer Shane Mungitt (Michael Oberholtzer) arrives on the scene spewing racial and homophobic slurs at a press conference, Darren’s emotional armor fractures. He almost seems frustrated to become the poster child for inclusion.

“I’m so creepy sick of that welcome I receive,” Darren says. “Alluva suddenly I am a victim. Whore this! I want insults – bricks – epithets.

As Darren spirals, his newly hired business manager, Mason (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), discovers a love for baseball, describing it as the “perfect metaphor for hope in a Democratic society.” He speaks of the noble equality of the game:

“Equality, that is to say, opportunities.
Everyone has exactly the same chance.
And the opportunity to exercise this chance at your own pace.

Of course, we all know that equality in sport, especially for young trans people, is on the brink. But like take me out reveals, you never know where the ball will land until you swing the bat.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Take me out. Photo by Joan Marcus

Let’s take a moment:

Yes, Darren and his teammates occasionally strip and dishevel — moments that Williams says are intrinsic to the play’s authenticity.

“You can’t have a conversation about masculinity and power dynamics on a big sports team without being in the locker room,” Williams said in an interview with Trevor Noah on The daily show. “It’s a question of exposure, of vulnerability. What do I do? Where should I go now? What brief nudity does is bring the audience into our experience. Yes. You have to decide where to look. Are you listening? Can you watch and listen? Can you be here? Are you distracted? »

But what the audience also testifies to in one of the play’s most metaphorically naked moments is how our biases are not born but learned. After a tragic incident on the playground, an uneducated Shane sputters rage at Kippy and Darren in a captivatingly unstable display years are brewing. Last seen on Broadway in hand to godOberholtzer strikes the impossible by engendering compassion for a seemingly miserable human being who we later discover is tragically broken.

take me out
Michael Oberholtzer (foreground) and the cast of take me out. Photo by Joan Marcus

The last word:

take me out soars in its allegorical celebration of America’s pastime. “…baseball says: Someone’s going to lose. Not only said he — insists on it! For baseball to realize the tragic vision that Democracy eludes. Dodge and embodies,” Ferguson’s character proclaims. “Democracy is beautiful, but baseball is more mature.”

take me out plays at the Hayes Theater until May 29, 2022.

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