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Marla Ridenour on Sports

“Our Greatest Year” probes Clevelanders’ sports psyche

By Marla Ridenour Published: March 27, 2012

Northeast Ohio sports fans don’t need an hour on a psychiatrist’s couch when they can see the new play and comic “Our Greatest Year,” concluding a limited engagement at the Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights tonight and Saturday.

John Carroll University alums Robert Attenweiler (playwright) and Scott Henkle (comic writer/illustrator) use lines and cartoons that will make you laugh and cut to the heart in their story of newlywed New York sportswriter Harvey and his wife Elton who come to Cleveland to care for Harvey’s elderly father.

Centering around the 2007 seasons for the Browns, Cavs and Indians, the dialogue is captivating from Harvey’s opening soliloquy when he says, “I was circumcized by a Bernie Kosar-endorsed scapel.” Elton quickly catches on to the neuroses of long-suffering fans when she says in reference to the Indians taking on the Boston  Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, “If they lose, do they get to lose again?” She remains riveted to the couch to watch the “blue and white team,” the Indianapolis Colts, in the regular-season finale that will determine whether the 10-6 Browns make the playoffs.

Harvey reveals his lifetime of tormet as he debates whether to turn on the television to see the final game of the Indians-Red Sox series, all the while knowing Elton has peeked at the score. “Was anything set on fire at all?” he asks. “I have this dream everyone douses themselves with gasoline and sets themselves on fire.” With the Indians needing only one victory to reach the World Series, he says, “If this is over and we lost, there should be silence and a black screen.”

With their struggles for optimism, Eric Slater (Harvey) and Rebecca Benhayon (Elton) might as well be Clevelanders. In the two-person show that takes place in the mildewed basement of Harvey’s father’s home, we can feel their emotions.

Henkle’s comics are a treat, especially a series about a group of bar regulars who gather to watch “The Fumble” game yearly. The show’s drawings was why it debuted last summer at the Comic Book Theater Festival in New York.

Presented by Disgraced Productions, in conjuction with John Carroll, the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets (from $10  for students to $25) are available at www.ourgreatestyear.com. The Dobama Theater is a hidden gem that is part of the Cleveland Heights’ library complex on Lee Road.

A brief talkback following tonight’s performance will feature Scott Raab, GQ writer and author of “The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the “Soul of LeBron James.” A talkback with the writers, actors and directors will follow Saturday’s show.

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