Currently up to bat at Seattle Public Theater we have a spotlight on one of the most recent scandals to rock America's pastime, steroids, with "Back Back Back" by Itamar Moses. And while not one of the most scintillating looks into the inner workings of Baseball, director Kelly Kitchens has assembled a fine team of players who turn in some wonderful performances.
When is it taking hold of an advantage and when is it cheating? That's the question facing three very different major leaguers as they advance in their careers and in their years. Adam (Trick Danneker) is the idealistic rookie who still believes in the sanctity of the game. Raul (Ray Gonzalez) is the guy who will take whatever is offered to him and however he can get it and thinks everyone should use them. And Kent (Patrick Allcorn) is the superstar who isn't sure of the ethics involved but as long as no one finds out is willing to take the risk. And there you have the three basic attitudes of The Players involved. The main problem I had is that was it. The script doesn't really allow for any of them to grow or evolve those opinions, just to get caught in how they deal with them. So rather than going along their journey with them, we simply get the journey itself and what happened. And of course what happened is what we all followed on the news as the real life steroid scandal came into light and ended up in front of Congress.
Now I must admit I'm not the biggest baseball fan (and I know I could be lynched for saying that). But there have been other baseball dramatizations that work for me. "Damn Yankees" and "Take Me Out" to name a few. But those were more about the characters and the situation over the sport itself and maybe that's what didn't knock it out of the park for me. Moses doesn't really give the characters anywhere to go.
But whatever downfalls the script may have the cast tackles them and still gives some great performances. Danneker keeps his wide eyed enthusiasm even as his character ages and sees the way his heroes really behave. And he and Allcorn probably grow the most throughout the show. And while I may not have seen so much growth from Gonzalez he sticks with his conviction of the character and completely sells the "no matter what it takes" Raul without becoming the stereotype. And the three together form a tight and driven ensemble that keeps the pace clipping.
So no, not the most amazing thing I've seen from these three incredible actors and not the most riveting play. But that could also just be the show being lost on a baseball neophyte. But for those who are move avid fans and who hung on every hearing and case then this could be a home run for you.
"Back Back Back" performs at Seattle Public Theater through April 22nd. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Public Theater box office at 206-524-1300 or visit them online at www.seattlepublictheater.org.
Photo credit: Paul Bestock