“Back, Back, Back” at Seattle Public Theater

Imagine that you could use some drug that would increase your competitiveness in whatever your field. Drugs to make you a brilliant physician, drugs to make you a best selling writer, drugs to make you a top salesperson, an outstanding CEO, an award winning scientist, teacher, actor . . . drugs to make you just a lot better than you naturally are. Using them wouldn’t be ethical, but they were there if you wanted them. Would you use them?

The men in “Back, Back, Back” Itamar Moses’ baseball play are offered such magic drugs. The author provides a 20-year history of steroid use in professional baseball by using the device of a scoreboard to mark off nine innings of the script. But the innings go quickly and superficially. Significant issues whiz past without adequate exploration.

Under Kelly Kitchens’ direction, however, Patrick Allcorn, Ray Gonzalez, and Trick Danneker as the three teammates make their roles more powerful than they are scripted. As the three play off each other and reveal the kinds of discussions, rivalries, support structures and tensions that fill the locker rooms of professional sports, it won’t be hard to guess who the real life players are on which the characters are modeled.

They shock, delight, disappoint and amuse. I loved the advice Allcorn gives the younger Danneker about how to deal with sports writers. “Speak in complete sentences and don’t stop talking.” The message is clear. The longer it takes you to answer one question, the fewer questions you’ll be forced to answer.

This isn’t the definitive baseball play, but it raises ethical questions that today are pertinent to more than our ball fields.

Through April 22 at Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse at Green Lake, (7312 W. Green Lake Drive N., Seattle (206 524-1300 or www.seattlepublictheater.org).

Leave a Reply