Is this gonna hurt? — Herbert
Only if you mess up! — Rosalie
Rosalie pitches to Herbert
With baseball season officially over, Double Play can temporarily fill in that void. Yes, the show is about baseball with a focus on two people who are highly unlikely to be together but somehow they make it work and prove the naysayers wrong. Herbert Schiennan (Johnathan Tchaikovsky) and Rosalie Mannesse (Kim Hamilton) who live worlds apart but come together by their interest in baseball. Actually, it’s semi-interested with Herbert whereas for Rosalie it’s more of a religion.
It’s September 1981, outside Yankee Stadium at the ticket both located in the boogie down Bronx, New York. Herbert is a seventh year doctoral student at Montclair College in New Jersey and works at a Xerox copy place. He wears his tape recorder slung over the shoulder, wears oversized glasses and wears his white pen protector with pride. He is assigned to write about people who love, or possess an obsession, for baseball. He goes to Yankee Stadium hoping to speak with people who will buy tickets. He’s surprised to see someone already making a line. Rosalie has her New York Yankee blanket laid out with supplies waiting for the ticket booth to open. She left her graveyard shift at a nearby warehouse and headed straight to the stadium. That’s true commitment.
Rosalie considers herself to be the Yankees good luck charm. She confidently tells Herbert that when she gets the first ticket, the Yankees win. She’s their unofficial good luck charm. Herbert smiles at her strong bravado and attempts to interview her. Rosalie is one of those hard-core fans who thinks, lives and breathes baseball, especially for the Yankees. Herbert can’t compete with Rosalie’s enthusiasm and the interview doesn’t go smooth. It goes phenomenally hysterical with Rosalie outsmarting Herbert. She’s scary but effective. She is a living and breathing baseball encyclopedia. She can tell you former New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen’s stats and spit out many of Yogi Berra’s many ridiculous quotes and provide his government name, (Lawrence Peter Berra) in the same breath. The girl is a boss. Herbert is sweet on her but can’t show it. Either because he thinks she won’t feel the same or she can do some serious bodily harm if he tried anything. Just saying.
Fast forward 28 years later, Herbert and Rosalie have been married for over 20 years. He was an adjunct professor on baseball literature who lost his job. Rosalie is waiting for the ticket booth to open. She brings a fold out chair and peruses the memorabilia magazine to see what’s on sale. The couple is broke. She sold her bar she worked in when they first met. However, that doesn’t stop her from wanting to buy Babe Ruth’s home plate for $18,000. Herbert isn’t happy. They argue back and forth with great one-liners. Rosalie doesn’t want to hear it. She knows their situation is grim but acts as if everything will be fine. The couple who didn’t seem right for each other before are now in sync. Just not when it comes to baseball. Playwright Dennis Danziger is an exceptional writer. He knows his baseball history. He dives lightly into what makes Herbert and Rosalie tick and turns it into an epic poem. He reminds me of a younger Neil Simon when he first came out with his earlier work, which was funny but sweet and touching and most importantly reaches the heart. There’s a reason why baseball is considered to be America’s favorite pastime. And, Danziger captures that moment beautifully.
Double Play plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Sunday, November 4th, at The Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, located at 5636 Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles. For ticket information, call (323) 463-7378 or reserve online at www.doubleplay.brownpapertickets.com