Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
The play is not complex, with two mismatched men, coming together to coach a little league team. Don is experienced, Michael is new to baseball. During the season they bump heads, and learn about each other through male bonding. The writing is above average for this kind of play, and a humorous undercurrent adds some layers of nuance to the characters.
Fortunately, FST fields a first rate cast. Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, new to FST, plays Don, a blue collar stand-up guy. Yes, he has some rough edges, but he also has a real emotional connection to the kids. When life threatens to knock him on his ass, he mans up. Timothy C. Goodwin plays Michael, a bit of a nebbish from the get-go, but we find out why as the play progresses. Both performances are excellent and engage the audience.
Jason Cannon maintains a separate rhythm for each character. As the two men adapt a bit toward each other, it is just thatneither moves too far from their emotional center, which keeps them more interesting. The excellence of this production comes from Mr. Cannon's superlative direction.
Brian Dudkiewicz provides a simple but effective ballfield via artificial turf covering the stage and a low wall at the rear of the stage. Lea Umberger's costumes are effective, mostly baseball attire over casual street clothes. Jim Hunter's lighting design and Thom Korp's sound design are both simple and effective.
What has stayed with me after enjoying Rounding Third is thinking about the way very different men come together. Male bonding is very different from the female version, at least according to playwright Richard Dresser.
Rounding Third runs through August 29, 2021, at Florida Studio Theatre, Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, please call the box office at 941-366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org.
Cast: Don: Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper