GOD BLESS BASEBALL (FringeArts/Toshiki Okada): Explaining the rules of the game

god-bless-baseballToshiki Okada’s new play, a South Korean and Japanese collaboration, GOD BLESS BASEBALL, is an allegorically complex performance about baseball that isn’t about baseball.

Two young women (Sung Hee Wi and Aoi Nozu) are confused by the sport of baseball (and who can blame them?). The problem for them is that they can’t quite figure out the basics, like why it’s played and how. Cue the character played by Yoon Jae Lee who tries to explain baseball, but fails. His failure is probably the result of his hatred of baseball that borders on the existential. Finally an imitator of the the Japanese baseball legend, Ichiro Suzuki (Pijin Neji), arrives to make his own explanation about life and baseball, and why they are the same thing.

This is a perfect play to see at FringeArts. It’s strange, provocative, passionate and represents something different from mainstream American theater. Its multidimensionality will provide plenty to discuss and analyze while its cleverness and sense of fun entertain. Just like baseball, GOD BLESS BASEBALL has been criticized for its slow tempo, but for this play speed is not really necessary because what is happening onstage is complicated on multiple levels and invites contemplation.

Anyone who’s a fan of straightforward drama and clearly defined stories, though, is better off avoiding this play. But those who are more interested in experimental theater and what can be done with things like physical acting, layered symbolism, and self-aware characters should not miss it.

[FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulvard] January 21-22, 2016; fringearts.com.


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