Ah, October! The baseball season, that long grind of 162 games that began in April, is over and it’s on to the playoffs, the perfect time to debut a new play with evocative title Going…Going…GONE!, the oft heard cry of a play-by-play announcer signaling the flight of a hard hit ball on its way over the outfield fence, perhaps to become the treasured memento of a die-hard fan.
Ken Levine’s new play, now in production at the Hudson Guild Theatre, is a snug sitcom played out in the press box of “a major Los Angles baseball stadium.” Four sports writers occupy the stadium niche, a sadly diminished number in these waning days of print journalism. Dennis (David Babich) is a nebbish, stressed over so much in his life. He is one of those baseball nerds who has statistics memorized, one who can recall instantly games of past. He has a wife who is pressing him to buy a house she covets and which he knows they can’t afford. All he really wants is to go to Canton, Ohio and be a part of the staff at the Hall of Fame.
Mason (Dennis Pearson) is a dedicated sports writer for the LA Times, one of the very few left on staff. Big Jim (Troy Metcalf), a blogger, is a very big, sharp-tongued individual with a huge appetite. The two exchange a lot of slings and arrows aimed the ethnicity of one and the size and eating habits of the other. Some of it is good-natured; much of it is sharply barbed.
Shana Saunders (Annie Abrams), an attractive blonde, comes into this essentially masculine arena carrying a microphone. She is a substitute commentator whose usual beat is Pac12 football. Turns out she can give and take with the best of them.
Going…Going…GONE! is an amiable show. The performers are fine in the stock roles of fat guy, black guy, nerd and girl and the show has a sit-com feel to it, not surprising since the playwright is an accomplished, Emmy-award winning writer as well as an acclaimed sportscaster. There are a lot of laughs, but the characters are thinly drawn and the acerbic repartee often rings hollow.
Director Andrew Barnicle gives the action as much variety as he can, but the setting limits the action. For much of the play the characters sit at the stadium’s press box desks overlooking the game from on high. In that way, the close confines of the Hudson’s Guild Theatre are ideal, if confining.
One doesn’t have to be a baseball enthusiast to enjoy this play, but it helps. Going…Going…GONE! continues through November 6 at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.