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Gillian Takes a Classy Swing at Going Batty
By Mark Shenton
April 11, 2004
Playing a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, former X-Files star Gillian Anderson is first seen tense, brittle and barefoot in The Sweetest Swing In Baseball. In this new play at the Royal Court, she doesn't leave the stage for a single scene throughout an intense, anxious evening in which the tension hardly lets up for a second.
It's about a painter called Dana Fielding who is plunged into a crisis of self-doubt when her partner leaves her and her latest exhibition flops. As Anderson vividly portrays her with all her raw, vulnerable feelings exposed, it is as uncomfortable to watch as it is gripping.
Rebecca Gilman's provocative play provides a dark journey into the mind and motives of a woman who pretends to take on the personality of famous black baseball player Darryl Strawberry in order to stay in psychiatric care after her insurance cover runs out.
It also resonates with ideas about art, identity and being who you want to be.
Ian Rickson's superbly-acted production ratchets up the unremitting tension with the insistent electronic buzz of Ian Dickinson's soundtrack and the subtle lighting of Howard Harrison that meticulously defines changing moods as well as locations.