Men like sport, something every patient girlfriend or partner knows. In England it’s usually football that takes over for ‘Six Months Out of Every Year’, but in America it’s baseball.
Damn Yankees tells the story of Joe (Liam Christopher-Lloyd), a loyal Washington Senators fan who makes a deal with the devil (Paul Tate) to become the player that the Senators need to beat the Yankees. As a businessman he gives himself an escape clause, but once the devil unleashes Lola (Charlotte Donald) ‘the best homewrecker he has’ Joe has to make a choice between fortune and fame or his wife Meg (Jenny Delisle).
The Brockley Jack is a small, intimate venue but each time I visit I’m impressed with how the director has used the space. Damn Yankees is no exception, with the stage painted like a baseball diamond and used to great effect with simple props. Meanwhile the (albeit unnecessary) three-person band sit behind a baseball pitch fence wearing baseball shirts.
Considering most of the cast are rookie performers, it might be wise to invest in microphones for future performances as their voices struggle to compete with so many instruments. At times the singing feels quite strained which is a shame because they’re clearly a talented bunch, particularly Rachel Lea Gray who plays fickle reporter Gloria with a malicious charm.
However, the stage really belongs to Paul Tate who performs the role of Applegate (aka the Devil) with true characterisation and humour, putting his own spin on a well-known character. Christopher-Lloyd is definitely one to watch and it’s great to see him prove his worth after taking an undeserved backseat in I Love You Because earlier this year.
As Damn Yankees was written in the 1950s, music and lyrics do feel slightly old-fashioned, but Gray and the cast give a superb toe-tapping performance of Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo and duets Near to You and Two Lost Souls are also show highlights.
Although it leaves a lot to be desired, the show is a lot of fun and if you’re a fan of baseball then it’s definitely worth seeing.
Review by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Damn Yankees based on the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop
Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Presented by Imperial Productions and directed by Dom O’Hanlon
Faust meets Baseball in this new production of the classic Broadway musical.
As middle-aged baseball fan Joe Boyd trades his soul to the Devil in order to help his favourite baseball team beat the New York Yankees, hell literally breaks loose. Transformed into baseball sensation Joe Hardy, he takes the Washington Senators to new heights whilst discovering the true worth of the life he was so quick to leave behind.
Featuring a memorable score of Adler and Ross hits such as, ‘Whatever Lola Wants’, ‘Shoeless Joe’, ‘Who’s Got the Pain?’ and ‘Heart’, this Tony Award Winning Musical is brought to the London fringe in an exciting new form by Imperial Productions.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
Tuesday 1 April to Saturday 12 April 2014 at 7.45pm
Saturday matinees 5th, 12th at 2:45p