Sports: not my thing. Sure I’ve played a few games of hoops with my friends, but to be honest, even as a kid I never followed the stats. Worst of all sports? Baseball. It’s got that hurry-up-and-wait pacing that really makes my blood tepid.
How fortunate for me that The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy by Allen Meyer and Michael Nowak isn’t really a sports play. There’s plenty of baseball in it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t overwhelm or stand in for characterization or drama.
Though the script itself was written by Meyer and Nowak in the eighties, it may still require a little polish, as the dramatic crescendo is not quite what it should be. There’s plenty of excitement in spite of that, given multiple running subplots that expose the rough and tumble of baseball life in the late 1800s. The characters are written with sharp focus and a strong sense of time and place.
Director John Carpenter and a cast of local actors put in their all, pushing through an extended rehearsal process to bring something touching and authentic to the company’s intimate little stage. The show is definitely a ensemble piece, and the challenges of working with the deaf, an involved playwright and limited performance area seemed to bring the cast that much closer together.
Carpenter drew upon the talents of some of Nashville’s established actors and rising stars in putting his cast together, but the new faces are not overwhelmed. The lead role of William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy and his alter-ego, Speaker Hoy, were both performed with respect and care by stage newcomers Bryce and Jessie Pryun. Bryce is a graduate of the Fremont School for the Deaf (the script even requires that a deaf actor pay the role of Hoy) and carried the role with heart and gravitas.
Student actors also participated in the show, which was fully interpreted in American Sign Language by the dedicated people of Hearing Bridges.
While a larger space might have carried the expansiveness of the diamond better than Lakewood’s stage, the intimacy of the acting would be lost. The board has clearly learned how best to utilize its space, turning a negative that would cripple many companies into a big plus.
Lakewood’s next production is a three night run of The Guys, a “9/11 anniversary play to celebrate the heroism of firefighters,” starring Doug Allen and Heather Alexander. It runs September 8-11. Visit the production’s facebook event page for more information.