Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 14, 2009

Red Remembers

Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA
through November 1, 2009
by Barbara Stroup

Berkshire Theatre presents an engrossing one-person play. "Red Remembers" visits Red Barber in retirement in his Florida home, where he is caring for his ailing wife Lylah, plagued with Alzheimer's. Red recalls the major events of a long career and takes a seat at a 'microphone' to repeat for the audience the moments for which he is most famous - notably the ninth inning hit that broke up a no-hit pitching performance by Bill Bevans in the 1947 World Series.

Tony-nominated veteran actor David Garrison plays Barber. His professionalism shines as he portrays a man beset by responsibility, some failure of memory, and the ravages of a bleeding ulcer. This reviewer particularly liked his use of gesture and movement style. Garrison's voice is sonorous and sportscaster-like, and becomes even more profound when he sits down at the 'microphone'. The beautifully-lit living room becomes a ball field as the lights go down and rear- projection, wall-sized images transport the audience to Ebbetts Field and Yankee Stadium for play-by-play moments.

Garrison has a lot of stage business to manage during the one-act 90-minute play, and he does so with total naturalness and finesse. There are cocktails to mix, phones to answer, garments to pack, and broken tumblers to sweep up - all of this action flows smoothly within the on-going monologue. The script is full of the phrases that made Red Barber's broadcasts famous, and reveals the changing principles of a man who resisted the integration of the sport until he realized that the real requirement of his job was simply to report on where the ball was.

Both set and lighting design make a remarkable contribution to the script. The living room is crisp-looking and complete; mementos stand out. Director John Rando has made all the pieces fit, and David Garrison brings reality to a remarkable script - a rewarding experience for fans of both baseball and good theatre.