Clearing Hedges | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Clearing Hedges 

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Clearing Hedges, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. The lifelong goal of Babe Didrikson Zaharias was simple: she aimed to be the greatest athlete ever. She played professional basketball and baseball, won Olympic gold medals in track and field in 1932, then turned to golf. Along the way she found love with professional wrestler George Zaharias and companionship with young golfer Betty Dodd.

In this one-woman show, playwright-performer Jennifer Barclay tells us Babe was boldly determined to "whop 'em all." But though she competed when women athletes were considered freaks, better off at home "getting prettied up," Barclay prefers to catalog events rather than examine Babe's life and times, focusing on her aggressive confidence and competitive drive. We gain insight into Babe's personality from family members, but the script glosses over certain details (such as clearly identifying Betty) and overlooks such major accomplishments in Babe's life as cofounding the LPGA.

Directed by Jay Paul Skelton, Barclay vibrantly conveys Babe's fire and charisma, and she can be physically convincing as some of the other characters. But overall there's too little differentiation of the people Barclay's portraying. In the end, this 40-minute show only teases us: we leave wanting to know more about Babe's inner life and the hurdles she had to clear to make her mark as an athlete.


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