If the effigies of famous Yankees sluggers at Madame Tussaud’s aren’t lifelike enough for you, cross 42nd Street to watch Eric Simonson’s Bronx Bombers, a veritable walking-talking wax museum of baseball greats—with about as much psychological complexity. All the biggies are here: Yogi, the Babe, Joltin’ Joe, Elston Howard, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter (maybe A-Rod’s invitation got lost in the mail). What’s missing is a compelling reason to gather them (and us) together, beyond misty-eyed reminiscing about ballpark glory days.
The first act of this Primary Stages production begins promisingly, throwing us into the middle of the notorious 1970s Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin feud. The lovable Yogi—whose double negatives always make a humorous positive—convenes a hush-hush hotel room summit. But it’s a furious stalemate: Neither the showboating star or the fire-breathing manager will give.
After this setup, it’s a real letdown when the second act turns out to be dominated by a bizarre fantasy-baseball banquet where the Yankee legends from different decades wax elegiac, eliciting grunts of recognition from savvy spectators. The play’s pent-up conflicts—team versus individual celebrity, tradition versus innovation, entertainment versus sport—evaporate. We’re left with a feel-good myth that’s supposed to eclipse all the greed, ego, and dirty deals. Tell that to A-Rod.