Scene from “Take Me Out” Credit: www.2st.com photo

“Take Me Out” is a stunningly powerful play that needs to be experienced! Richard Greenberg has created a piece that looks at what a biracial major league baseball player could go through when he decides to share his sexuality with the world. Darren Lemming plays on the Empires, an MLB team, he is the dream player, he is at the top of his game, but when he announces that he is gay in 2002, he finds that things don’t go smoothly anymore.

It’s so eye-opening to see how this man’s admission makes his teammates second guess him in the locker room and treat him differently. As one of the players, Kippy—who is his white, best friend on the team, surmises—now in the shower the men look each other in the eyes. Everyone is self-conscious about their nudity. What’s truly interesting about this story is that Darren’s best friend, Davey, a player on another team, encouraged him to find his truth and share it. However, this was not a truth Davey meant for him to share. In fact, he finds out that Davey didn’t think of it as a truth, but an abomination.

Of course, in the Major Leagues you can have white, racist ball players, but the character of Shane from Arkansas, is without a doubt, one of the most despicable, racist whites you could ever meet. Add to that his hatred of gay men and you have the recipe for an explosive situation. I won’t say anymore.

“Take Me Out” will have you engaged and laughing, and has quite a few eye-popping scenes, as the shower scenes in this drama literally show…naked men in the shower. Team showers are a community event and you see all the members of that community—live and on the stage! These scenes are not about the nudity however, they’re about the reactions that the men now have towards each other after Darren admitted that he is gay. It’s sad that men can have a game that they love, like baseball, but when homosexuality is introduced, not only can other men turn on that player, even the fans can question his being on the team. They don’t mind him being gay, but they don’t want him playing baseball.

Darren ends up with a business manager named Mason, who is a gay, white man, who feels proud of the fact that Darren came out of the closet. He sees Darren’s act as a stand for gay men. It’s amusing how Mason is like a giddy schoolgirl when it comes to interacting with Darren. However, he is also very level-headed about the advice he gives Darren about his career. Mason is a character that never was in to sports and was an outcast in the gay community. However, encountering Darren inspires him to get into baseball and become a fanatic about watching it, understanding it, and rallying behind it.

“Take Me Out” deals with an important subject, but Greenberg does it with such continuous humor that you find yourself laughing and just going with the smooth flow of this play. I love how the character of Kippy plays the narrator and connects all the storyline for the audience. This Second Stage production, playing at the Helen Hayes Theater at W. 44th Street, features a mesmerizing cast that includes Jesse Williams as Darren. He brings such a focused, powerful delivery to this role. Patrick J. Adams is marvelous as Kippy, a best friend to Darren, who truly tries to get Darren to be his true self and support him no matter what. Jesse Tyler Ferguson is tremendous as Mason, the business manager. I believe the minute Ferguson takes the stage everyone knows he’s going to deliver a first rate performance and he never disappoints. His character is so engaging and has flawless timing with his comic delivery. Brandon J. Dirden is absolutely incredible as Davey, Darren’s friend who pushes him to reveal his true-self, but can’t handle the truth! Dirden is someone most people will recognize as being an actor in August Wilson plays, Dominique Morisseau and Leslie Lee. Every time he’s on the stage he brings an authenticity that stands out. Michael Oberholtzer is completely engrossing as Shane, the racist, hateful, white player. He oozes racism and ignorance. The rest of this team is stunningly played by Julian Cihi, Hiram Delgado, Carl Lundstedt, Ken Marks, Eduardo Ramos and Tyler Lansing Weaks.

Scott Ellis’ impeccable direction successfully brings all these elements of this play together. “Take Me Out” is a homerun! Go experience it before June 11. For more info, visit www.2st.com.

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