In this story of one Ann Coulteresque heroine’s ascent from faceless news reporter to neocon pinup, playwright Victoria Stewart takes aim at several big ideas. Some—like what will happen to objective news coverage when money and TV ratings flow to partisan annals—have yet to find resolution in real life, let alone on stage, making this world-premiere play all the m ore topical. Virginia (Jaime Roberts) lands on a national TV talk show to discuss her firing for sporting a Bush ’04 button in the newsroom. A right-wing mouthpiece (Roy Stanton) destroys her on camera, but he knows raw talent when he sees it. Slowly, Virginia grows in confidence and audacity as her loyalties switch from her old newspaper boss (Shawn Belyea) to her newfound mentor. Hardball is a scrappy, untidy piece of theater that often resembles an Oliver Stone flick in its transparent bias. But just as frequently, Stewart’s darkly comic fable wrestles with all the right issues. On the surface, it’s the story of a woman taking her fate in her own hands and seizing every opportunity. But it’s also a grim tale of how deeply truth-telling has been wounded by the rise of the pundit class. KEVIN PHINNEY [See Kevin's full review.]

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Mon., March 14, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 19, 2 p.m. Starts: March 4. Continues through March 26, 2011

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