Denver boasts theater for guys
Even for a play that pits two highly recognizable caricatures against one another, “Rounding Third” is a funny and at times heartwarming story that succeeds more on the strength of its cast than the brilliance of its script.
Richard Dresser’s comedy, now playing at the Arvada Center, was written using the playwright’s own experience coaching baseball, and the background shows. This is a Little League we’re talking about, and two dads trying to coach the boys while they wrestle with their own domestic demons and an innate dislike for one another. Don is the beer-swilling, tough-talking pragmatist who just wants to win, while Michael (not “Mike,” thank you) is the geeky white-collar widower trying to bond with his stepson Frankie, a 12-year-old with the athletic prowess of a table lamp.
With the stage set for a traditional “Odd Couple” unfolding, Dresser takes some liberties with the genre and throws a few curveballs, most notably with the ending, which is anything but Hollywood. Don and Michael – veteran actors Thomas Borrillo and Kelly Walters – play to their types (think John Goodman and Gary Burghoff) but do it with empathic bravado. Director Alan Osburn has some fun with the trappings of the geek (clip-on cell phone, knee-high socks, etc.) and Joe Six Pack (Bud swilling, malapropisms, beer gut) but doesn’t take it so far that you think you’re watching a cartoon.
Osburn also does a nice job building the world of a Little League team with only two characters. For the kids, the actors simply pretend they’re there, and when they get in the way of heavy-duty “coaches meetings,” they’re ordered to do laps. Not a bad way to handle the extras.”Rounding Third” has some strong (PG-13-ish) language, but its theme makes it an inspired theater introduction for men and their ‘tween and teen sons. (I saw it with my 13-year-old, who quite enjoyed it.) The women in the audience seemed to like it fine as well, but as the poster for the play says, “It’s a guy thing,” and this is hardly a date play.
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