Review: ‘The Catch’

'The Catch'

Story probes the litigious, scam-filled, and get-rich-quick schemes that poison our zeitgeist.

Baseball serves as a metaphor for the American mindset in Ken Weitzman’s “The Catch,” now receiving its world premiere at the Denver Center Theater Company. Based loosely on the controversial events surrounding the record-breaking 73rd home run hit by Barry Bonds at the end of the 2001 season, the story probes the litigious, scam-filled, and get-rich-quick schemes that poison our zeitgeist.

Gary Zipnik (Ian Merrill Peakes) is down on his luck. His Silicon Valley dot-com venture tanked, taking with it his house and his marriage. His dad, Sid (Mike Hartman), shows up and discovers his son in a small apartment in Berkeley, maintaining his sanity with affirmations and visualizations, researching via the Internet for the next big thing.

Peakes, who read the role at the DCTC New Play Summit a year ago, is a marvel of manic moments, obsessing over the details of Gary’s plans, including a statistical analysis of how often Love homers in the daytime at home games and where these blasts usually land, as well as how he will win back his wife, Beth (Makela Spielman), and take care of his dad.

Calling Sid a curmudgeon is charitable, but Hartman deftly mines the script’s comedic opportunities and comes off more eccentric than intractable. Spielman is picture perfect in Beth’s compact arc — caring, exasperated, and finally, incisive.

Despite the acrimony between father and son, they connect over baseball and the local star player, Darryl Love (Nicoye Banks), who is on pace to break the three-year-old record of the white “farm boy,” as Love calls him.

The ebullient Banks has a field day with Love, who is as much a showman, rap star, and evangelist as he is a bona fide Hall of Fame slugger. Banks’ smooth, efficient, left-handed swing is convincing, too. All of this helps sell the dark social commentary he pointedly lays on us during his narrative interludes.

Cultures clash when Gary bumps into Michael Nomura (Pun Bandhu) in the right-field bleachers, but underneath the tension and awkwardness, scribe cleverly reveals compelling parallels: Gary and Michael each seek in vain for their father’s approval and both their families had farms taken away from them (Gary’s Russian-Jewish grandfather during one of the Cossack pogroms, and Michael’s Japanese-American father, when he was ordered to an internment camp during WWII); however, it is their mutual interest in a certain baseball that eventually provides the common ground.

Bandhu’s incremental shifts in Michael, from inscrutable and reticent to confident and forthcoming, provide dynamic contrast to both Peakes’ extroverted, controlling Gary, and to Wai-Ching Ho’s broadly comedic Ruth, Michael’s mother.

Though we are loath to admit it, our storied national pastime’s cheating-laced history (spitballs, emery boards, corked bats, sign stealing and steroids) is not so different than the flip side of our nation’s gilded creed (racism, financial legerdemain, orchestrated casus belli and election theft) as Darryl Love points to in his scathing summary monologue.

The Catch

Denver Center Theater Company, Denver, The Space Theater; 450 seats; $62 top


Denver Center Theatre Company world premiere of a play in two acts by Ken Weitzman. Directed by Lou Jacob.


Set, James Kronzer; costumes, Ilona Somogyi; lighting, Jane Spencer; sound and composition, Jane Shaw; Stage Manager, Rachel Ducat. Opened, reviewed January 27, 2011. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.


Darryl Love - Nicoye Banks
Sid Zipnik - Mike Hartman
Gary Zipnik - Ian Merrill
Peakes Beth Zipnik - Makela Spielman
Michael Nomura - Pun Bandhu
Ruth Nomura - Wai-Ching Ho
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Legit News from Variety