Bang the Drum Slowly | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bang the Drum Slowly 

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Ever see a production irretrievably sunk by a single moment? That's what happens in this staging of Eric Simonson's 1992 adaptation of Mark Harris's 1956 novel (also a 1973 movie). The tone of Simonson's ball-club tearjerker, about a dim-witted catcher with a fatal illness, is understandably macho. The only sustained evocation of emotion is indirect, when one of the ballplayers sings "Streets of Laredo"--performed in Tony Adams's staging by someone who's not only tone-deaf but doesn't give the lyrics any feeling. That deep-sixes a production that's already somewhat stiff and flat, partly because few of the actors show the aggressive, fidgety physicality of professional athletes. The exception is Jim Poole, wonderfully pugnacious as the coach. Through 7/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Steep Theatre, 3902 N. Sheridan, 312-458-0722, $15.

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