Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the play. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, you’ll love, love, love the Gilbert Theater’s production of Playballs.
It’s a comedy based on the real-life story of Pam Postema, a woman struggling to make it as a professional umpire in the good ‘ol boy’s world of baseball. You’ll come to ﬁnd that, although most umps can call a clean game, it gets pretty grimy behind the scenes. Director Peter Bonilla, who also stars in the play, had his work cut out for him with a small cast of only three people. He rose to that challenge victoriously though, and rocked the stage with clever lines and a no-holds barred approach to the story.
In the opening scenes we meet the ﬁ ctional version of Postema, Lucy Posner, played by Claudia Warga. Warga brings Posner to life with perfection. She’s stubborn, determined, and beyond anything else, she knows what she wants. She wants to ofﬁ ciate in the major leagues, not as the ﬁ rst woman umpire, but simply as an umpire. There are plenty of people to stand in her way though, and Posner has to learn how to take it like a man when things don’t go her way. Her ability to do this is obvious, when she puts her foot down on Mr. Yoblinski, played by Jules Forde, who has denied her acceptance into the all-male umpiring school based on her gender alone. She lets him have it in a heated argument, and stands her ground until he folds. He wants to know one thing when she’s done telling him a thing or two though, so he asks “Where’d you learn to swear like that?” Posner replies bluntly, “My mother.” This was the ﬁ rst of many laughs as she coolly battles against sexist heckles and declares “I don’t cry. I just get pissed off.”
My hat is off to Warga, who never took a single break during the production, didn’t miss a line, or even stutter a word. She wasn’t alone up there though, and many of the lines that had the crowd roaring with laughter were delivered by Bonilla and Forde.
Bonilla is hilarious as Candie, a male chauvinist dirtball, who seems to speak without even knowing what’s going to come out of his mouth. Bonilla plays many parts on stage, from a foul-mouthed coach to the likeable Mr. Leary, and each one is equally as entertaining as the last.
Forde showcases his comedic abilities too, as he plays several roles throughout the production. He’ll make you laugh as an out-of-shape umpire who can barely do three jumping jacks, and then crack you up as a Don Juan-type catcher with a bad mustache, who relentlessly and unsuccessfully hits on Posner.
The three stars of this show bring endless energy, and masterful acting to the stage. You’ll ﬁ nd yourself rooting for Posner, as if she’s the home team, by the end of the play and wishing it could go into extra innings. If you don’t mind a little bit of (alright a lot of) inappropriate language, and you’re looking for something fun to do, make your way downtown to the Gilbert Theater. You’ll love everything from the amazing local talent, to the complimentary cake after the show. Trust me Fayetteville; you don’t want to miss this.