The B Street Theatre is immediately adjacent to a baseball diamond, and if you attend a Sunday matinee and go outside during intermission, you often find yourself witnessing a game.
So, the new B Street show, a two-man play called Rounding Third, is suited to the theater in the way gloves are made for hands.
The show features B Street regular Kurt Johnson as Michael, a stressed-out dad who volunteers to be the assistant coach on his son’s Little League team, and newcomer George Gerdes as Don, the tough-minded head coach who’s determined to win at any cost.
Playwright Richard Dresser quickly establishes an oil-and-water relationship. Don’s a blue-collar, beer-drinking guy, and he quickly dubs his new assistant coach “Mike” or even “Mikey.” But the assistant coach prefers to be called Michael, he’s a white-collar professional, and he’s often interrupted by his cell phone.
More important is their attitude toward baseball. Michael barely understands the strategy of the game and just wants to have fun with his son. Don knows the rules inside and out and breaks them when he needs to, if that’s what it takes to score runs.
The story grows through a string of confrontations and personal revelations as these two men learn how to overcome their conflicting backgrounds and philosophies and, well, don’t necessarily become friends but at least develop a level of mutual respect.
Johnson, always versatile, is in a part that suits him particularly well. He brings a quiet tension to the role that lends depth to his characterization. But the show is really dominated by Gerdes, who gives us a multifaceted picture of an almost tragic figure who’s running into frustration and dead ends at several levels in his life, who’s calculating and even cruel on occasion but who shows some redeeming qualities nonetheless.