The Batting Cage, Shattered Globe Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. Joan Ackermann shoots for both humor and pathos in this play about two estranged sisters vacationing together in Florida. The divorced and lonely Julianna talks incessantly; Wilson speaks little and for days refuses to leave their hotel room. Both women are still struggling with the death of a third sister two years earlier.
Director Rachel Silverman has a deft hand with the comedy that these opposites inspire, but her sentimental treatment of the third sister throws the play off balance. During scene changes we watch old home videos of the three as girls at play while listening to music that bluntly cues our emotions.
The performances are good throughout. For most of the play Eileen Niccolai's relentless Julianna handily upstages Rebecca Jordan's Wilson, whose odd, aloof silence borders on catatonia. Eventually Jordan shows her mettle, making Wilson's outburst about a batting cage experience the play's most satisfying dramatic moment. Paul S. Holmquist's bellhop prompts laughter, and in a tiny role Lynne Hall also makes an impression. This production hits the comedy dead on, but it takes a big empty swing at the play's emotional heart.