Caps, Needles Theatre Company, at Stage Left Theatre. Now that Bleacher Bums has taught even non-sports aficionados how to behave at ballparks, it's no surprise that the audience on one side of the Stage Left space was heckling the other side before Caps even started. But you won't encounter that kind of rude behavior in this series of monologues on the subject of America's Favorite Pastime written and performed by Dan Nelson, with direction, technical effects, and live a cappella music by Jacki Rutter. What you will encounter is plenty of sensitively wrought sentimentality: a fan is saddened by the dawn of a perfect day for a game during the recent strike, an unworthy father asks only to watch his estranged son play Little League, an alienated mother and son can bond only when singing along with Harry Caray. There are also some barely disguised editorials--a team owner exhorts his colleagues to fire players who diss their own teams and towns--and the usual gripes from vendors, umpires, and pinch hitters, who complain they get no respect.
Nelson's eclectic mix of personalities needs to be more focused and his details made more definite--especially since he has only two character voices, making his various personas often difficult to recognize. But Caps is still a work in progress, with new material being added and old deleted from week to week. And Nelson's obvious love for the sport and its people makes this show a definite contender. --Mary Shen Barnidge