Lafayette's Town Hall Theatre Company is trying out something different for its new season, alternating the first two shows in repertory into October. It's an odd pair to match up, however: Joe Mantegna and the Organic Theater Company's Bleacher Bums and Conor McPherson's spooky yarn The Weir (which starts this weekend).
Directed by ubiquitous Contra Costa comic actor Joel Roster, Bleacher Bums is about colorful diehard Chicago Cubs fans in the stands at Wrigley Field. If that sounds fabulous, the play is probably right up your alley. On the green bleacher set by Klyph Stanford that will somehow morph into The Weir's Irish pub, a few of the faithful have come to cheer on the Cubbies in a game against nemeses the St. Louis Cardinals.
It's a likable enough crew. Andrew R. Shaw as Dekker is the peacemaker and everyman of the group, which also makes him not terribly interesting. Former Willows artistic director Scott Fryer is low-key but appropriately weary as Zig, a working-class old-timer hiding out from his wife with his buddies and losing a bundle on ill-advised bets. Ginny Wehrmeister radiates artfully oblivious sex appeal in the eye-candy role of Melody until she finally gets fed up with being objectified.
Marcus Klinger is nicely cynical and predatory as ex-fan Marvin, who rakes in money by betting against the home team. Sally Hogarty makes a good foil as Zig's gently nagging wife, who may know more about the Cubs than he does.
It's the outsize personalities who really enliven the show, especially Henry Perkins as an obnoxious, wild-eyed superfan who rarely speaks below a war whoop. Dennis Markam is often hilarious and just as often excruciatingly uncomfortable as the clueless dweeb Richie.
Town Hall mainstay Sean Robert Griffin gives a placid charm to blind fan Greg, who keeps up on the play-by-play through headphones, but there's no getting around that his shtick of punning on each player's name and clanking a cowbell is just irritating.
There's obviously something romantic about staying true to the losing team, but as a play Bleacher Bums is fairly uneventful. If you were to lay a wager on how it would turn out in the end, you'd almost certainly be in the ballpark.
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