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
by Martin Spence
If you want to see a stonking star performance from Gillian Anderson,
book now for The Sweetest Swing In Baseball. Rebecca Gilman's startingly
funny take on mental illness parodies our culture of envy,
commercialisation and individual isolation, in which success is
worshipped but faliure enjoyed even more.
Anderson's Dana is the next best thing in the art world. But when her
latest exhibition flops, she flops too. Admitted to psychiatric hospital
after a suicide attempt, she tries to prolong her stay by taking dual
personality disorder. She chooses to morph into Darryl Strawberry, the
Afro-American baseball star. Preposterous? Sure. But whoever said mental
illness made sense?
How do you make a two-hour confessional interesting? You cast Anderson of
the empty eyes and dry-lipped speech. You watch as she interacts with a
sensible psychotic (John Sharian) and a gay alcoholic (Demetri Goritas).
No histronics. No hamming. No bullying. Seeing this tiny feminine thing
morph into a huge black male had me rolling about in my seat. Just watch
her body language, her hand gestures, her voice. Sure Gilman's
good-natured play is issue-led, butits written with warmth, common sense
and complete conviction.
Why does Dana want to stay in the hospital? Why does she refuse
medication? Why doesn't she co-operate with the shrinks? Because she's
still ill and she knows it. And Anderson, in the performance of her life,
knows it too. Dana's strong, spunky, not sad, not happy. She's through
with enthusiastic fakery. The final crazy twist proves that.