Reviews Claim Simonson's "Bronx Bombers" Play Heavy On Sentiment, Lacks Substance
"Bronx Bombers," the third sports-themed play conceived by Fran Kirmser, commissioned by Tony Ponturo and written and directed by Eric Simonson, is currently playing Off Broadway and is "undoubtedly the most enjoyable work in this series," according to Matt Windman of AMNY.com. Simonson's plays, which have been "co-produced with the NFL, NBA and now MLB and the Yankees themselves, are unapologetically unchallenging." While "hardly a masterpiece, 'Bronx Bombers' is like a tenderhearted frolic through memory lane with a touch of surrealism and a lot of personality." Windman gave the play 2.5 stars (AMNY.com, 10/8). In N.Y., Elisabeth Vincentelli wrote the actors "dig into the larger-than-life personalities and conflicts with gusto, especially" Francois Battiste, who plays Reggie Jackson and "struts around in a period afro and full polyester regalia." But the focus "evaporates in the second act, dominated by a dream sequence" in which Yogi Berra and his wife, Carmen, "host a dinner party with Yankees past and future." Simonson "piles on the anecdotes and relies more than before on the audience’s familiarity with the game." This is an "inside-baseball baseball play," but the show is "for fans, and its tone never wavers from awe-struck and reverential" (N.Y. POST, 10/9).
PULLED FROM THE LINE-UP: NBCNEWYORK.com's Robert Kahn wrote the play is a "maudlin sports drama." It begins as a "promising examination of power and personality clashes," but becomes a "too-sentimental, surreal fantasy -- all fields of dreams" (NBCNEWYORK.com, 10/9). BROADWAYWORLD.com's Michael Dale wrote the "main theme of the members of an institution trying to uphold its untarnished reputation despite cracks in the veneer is easily recognized." Still, "Bronx Bombers" keeps "rehashing the same point in different variations; heavy on sentiment, but thin on content" (BROADWAYWORLD.com, 10/9). In N.Y., Daniel Gold, a self-professed Mets fan, writes he "never thought I could pity the Yankees," but "thanks to 'Bronx Bombers,' I do." The play "milks the early deaths of Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson for sympathy." The Yankees "deserve better than this mawkish and sappy effort." The play is "no more than a schmaltzy sketch of athletes sitting around congratulating themselves." Gold: "You wonder if the Yankees organization, which worked with the production, is pleased" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10).