March 2004 - 15 May 2004
Monday - Saturday 7.30pm
3, 10, 17, 24 April, 1, 8 and 15 May 3.30pm
29 April 3.30pm
Back to GA.ws
'Scully's' home run
Reviewed by Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard (1 April
Transcript courtesy of Andrew
It was brave of her to come back for more. Gillian Anderson, fated
to have her name forever suffixed by "Agent Scully from The X-Files", has
returned to the London stage after a less than auspicious debut in late
Fans will be relieved to hear that whereas What The Night Is For
was almost universally panned, The Sweetest Swing In Baseball is a whole new
ball game, even if Anderson's character is, like Scully, named
Fittingly enough, this latest piece by Rebecca Gilman is also all
about comebacks, about dusting yourself off after vitriolic reviews and starting
all over again.
Anderson's Dana Fielding is a fashionable young artist
for whom the pressures and expectations of constant creativity prove too much.
After a particularly ill-received solo show, she slits her wrists and ends up in
a mental institution.
There, befriended by a recovering alcoholic and a
self-proclaimed psychopath, she finally finds both the time and the mental space
to touch up the damaged canvas of her life.
Two hours' worth of playing
time in Ian Rickson's chic, stripped-down production sees Anderson leave the
stage once, for about 30 seconds, and, to her immense credit, she is missed even
When we first encounter her, Dana is a woman desperately trying to
hold it all in, because the consequences of letting it all out would be
Anderson, with her brittle gestures, staring eyes and
suppressed tears, perfectly conveys the scarcely hidden panic of the depressive.
Yet when this continues in hospital, when Dana's hunted look returns with the
news that her insurance policy will shortly stop paying for treatment, the
suspicion is that we are in for a one-note performance.
this is Dana's desperate attempt to prolong her stay in the hospital's cocoon by
playing mad and imitating disgraced baseball legend Darryl Strawberry, whose
book on recovery she reads. This swaggering alter ego frees up Anderson to revel
in macho posturing and openings for humour.
This venue has played host to
three previous plays by the multi-award winning Gilman, which were notable for
being strongly issue-led.
Her theme here is the predicament of the
artist, whose months of solitary work end with a very public and potentially
damaging adjudication, yet all she has to say about the creative process is that
it's tough and one needs a thick skin - or even a whole new personality - to
Her solution to Dana's professional malaise could also have
come straight from the pages of a self-help manual. Nonetheless, Sweetest
Swing's very strength is the fact that the issue produces such a sympathetically
human and fallible character.
Four actors play all the other parts on
Hildegard Bechtler's minimalist set, whose white walls create the forbidding
atmosphere of a modish gallery. Demetri Goritsas is all sympathy as fellow
inmate Michael, while Nancy Crane's gallery owner, Rhonda, is a monster in fine
Yet there can be no denying what this particular night is for:
the triumph of Gillian Anderson.