There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
New Yorkers are the most highly evolved of Americans: resistant to noise and smells, patient with
sardine-can crowding, and able to adapt their personal possessions and habits to cramped living spaces. The small stage area at the DCAC is probably larger than some Manhattan apartments, but it’s not too far off the mark as the Greenwich Village flat of Maureen “Spanky” Oberfeld, a space that, after 43 days, has become not only her world, but her cell. It takes a while for the Venus Theatre’s production of All She Cares About Is the Yankees to reveal why Spanky (Deborah Lou Randall, executive director of the company) can’t go out the door. A program note on agoraphobia provides a pre-show clue—and might lead viewers to expect a Lifetime-style issue drama. But the gently humorous script, by John Ford Noonan (A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking), is about more than the pathological fear of the outside world. It touches on the weirder aspects of obsession—Spanky, a fan of the Bronx Bombers, talks and sleeps with rag dolls dressed in pinstriped uniforms—and on the tactics we use to get what we want from the people who care about us. Spanky’s needs are met by deliveries of audiotapes—a mechanism that’s perplexing from the get-go and unsatisfyingly explained only near the end of the play. She uses the tapes to act out fantasies of appearing on a Yankees-trivia game show, coaching the team, and making out with a player; they also contain messages from friends, one of whom plays back an old taped missive from Spanky. The play often sags under the weight of all this recorded material: The gifted and utterly credible Randall is too often compelled to dialogue with Memorex. (Bruce Phillips, Michael Rizzo, Mark Lewis, and Mike Leifman provide voice-overs.) It’s best to ignore the unconvincing elements of Yankees—why does a Minnesota expatriate have a Rosie O’Donnell-perfect New York accent? why would a stat-keeping Yankee fan ever turn off the TV during a game?—and relish Randall’s wholly tuned-in, sometimes disturbing performance. You’ll appreciate the fresh air when you go out the door after a very claustrophobic hour. —Pamela Murray Winters