Steroids, Sluggers & Socialites

If the first two plays of the Old Globe’s 2008-2009 season are any indication of what’s to come, then I’m glad I bought season tickets this year.

Back, Back, Back is timely, playing concurrently with the winding down of the baseball season. This play spans from 1984 through 2005, when congressional hearings were held to address the abuse of steroids in Major League Baseball. With a cast of only three men and staged in a theatre in the round, this 90-minute one-act show explores both the shame endured and success enjoyed by the two main characters who are stand-ins for Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

The Women has stunning staging and drop-dead gorgeous costuming; it was worth seeing for those elements alone.  Clare Booth Luce’s satire from 1936 is set among the social biting and back-stabbing women of Park Avenue and, while there aren’t many sympathetic characters, this production was a sinfully decadent and luxurious treat. (As an aside, it was quite an exercise in contrast to see this show just one week after watching Tobacco Road at the La Jolla Playhouse. Also written and set in the 1930s,Tobacco Road depicts the life of a dirt-poor family in 1932 Georgia. The dust and desperation of this world coexisting with the opulence and gluttony of The Women brought to mind the current debates about the ever-widening gap between the upper and lower classes.)

Other productions coming down the pike this season at the Old Globe include:

Since Africa, a drama about a Lost Boy of the Sudan settling into his new life in America.

Six Degrees of Separation, a drama about deceit, gullibility and posturing all in the pursuit of social status.

Working, a new musical created by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights).

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