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Night Baseball

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Night Baseball, Palookaville, at Cafe Voltaire. Don't be fooled by the title. "Night baseball," like "necktie party" and "executive action," is a euphemism for the most covert and cowardly pack violence. Gabriel Tissian's exploration of mob mentality and the roots of KKK-style activity isn't just about racism; it also touches on urban xenophobia, tribal loyalties, male-bonding rituals, and a son breaking free of his father's domination. And if Tissian's findings sicken us, they also remind us that this kind of ugliness can be only as far away as a poker game.

Portraying the seductiveness of cruelty is not without risks, and the six actors in the cast of this Palookaville production display commendable courage in immersing themselves so deeply in repugnant characters, men whose geniality makes their actions all the more horrifying. The reluctant initiate into this vigilante posse, who could easily have been played as a stereotypical innocent, is given dimension and humanity by Matthew Lang. Director Brian Beach keeps the delivery colloquial, the pace unhurried, and the focus intense and unflinching. Night Baseball's arguments may be a bit too neat at times, its ending frustratingly ambiguous, but you can't deny its fundamental truth.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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