Rounding Third

Rounding Third uses the green, historic expanse of baseball as the setting for a small, two-man drama, and perhaps not surprisingly, both are diminished. Some of the fault lies with Richard Dresser's script, which chronicles a predictable clash between two stereotypical Little League coaches— a "winning is everything" macho jerk (played by Richard Ziman), and a "let's just play to have fun" milquetoast (Michael David Edwards). Their confrontation is mildly comic, but never raw or surprising. Ziman's Don is a little too soft around the edges, not threatening enough; his nemesis Michael's failures (at work, on the field) carry no sting.

And they get no help from the bench: Director BJ Jones' blocking is cramped and static; the dirt-and-backstop set is overcrowded; and the soundtrack meant to conjure on-the-field action comes and goes awkwardly. The whole ballgame feels artificial and airless.

Where's the anger, the danger, the passion displayed on ballfields every day of the week by real-life dads? The drama of grown men wrestling with their childhood disappointments? The heat of fathers' flawed but towering love for their sons? Trust me: One trip to your neighborhood playfield is enough to bring tears to your eyes—a nuisance you won't have to suffer during Rounding Third. LYNN JACOBSON

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