Review by Liz Eichler of “Banned from Baseball”: Human Race Theatre
Traditional Greek Tragedies are about the fall from grace for a king, usually because of their pride or hubris. “Banned From Baseball,” running through September 23 at Dayton’s Human Race Theatre, explores the hubris of two kings, Rose and Commissioner Giamatti, and delivers a compelling show, even for a non-sports fan.
This is the world premiere of a story well known to Reds fans and your average Joe. Patricia O’Hara wrote the story, not just about Pete Rose, but also about the baseball commissioner, looking to redeem himself after stepping down from a stressful academic career. He holds onto one thing—the purity of the game, and his duty to keep it pure. Both men are filled with the passion for the same thing, baseball, and the audience gets to see the highly likable sides of each, as layers are peeled away. Even kings betray themselves,” the play explores, peeling back the layers of the humanity in both Rose and Giamatti.
The secret to this is the casting, and Brian Dykstra is a perfect Hit King. Dykstra is believable as a blue-collar “river rat” who worked hard to break a record and international acclaim, believing the hype and adulation. That naive pride both buoyed him to the top and put him in dangerous waters with questionable companions. Dykstra prowls the stage like a former athlete, still with a competitive fire burning inside him. Doug MacKechnie embodies Bart Giamotti’s white collar passion and addictive behavior, so audiences get to weigh each side. Interestingly, he gets to weigh in on Rose’s vices, while he chain smokes and drinks at the office.
Supporting the two main characters, we also see great performances from Marc Moritz as Rueven Katz, Rose’s lawyer, K.L. Storer as infamous lawyer John Dowd, and Scott Hunt as Fay Vincent, the Deputy Baseball Commissioner protecting the game’s fiduciary interest.
Director Margarett Perry coordinates the group with great pacing allowing the audience to connect with all the characters. The set (Tamara L. Honesty) is perfect, with the stadium as a glowing crown behind the stage. Costumes (Janet G. Powell) evoke a time gone by, making us miss plaid three piece suits. Lighting (John Rensel), Sound (Jay Brunner) and Props (Heather Powell) all add to the professional quality of this production.
I highly recommend you see this show, to see a well-known story told with love for the players and the game. For tickets contact 937-228-3630, or human race.org.