National Wine Centre
Until 12 Mar 2018

Review by Sarah Westgarth

The story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is a great one. The league was started during World War II, as a means of keeping the sport alive while majority of the male major league players had enlisted. It came to an end in 1954, but the spirit of the young woman who played, often defying all expectations, was crucial in pioneering females in sport. It is a perfect basis for a one-woman show; unfortunately, “Diamond Girls” never really hits the mark.

A one-person show works best when there is a clear, personal narrative, and the script, written by Maureen Ulrich, fails to provide this. The main character is ostensibly Mary Baker, one of the many Canadians who played in the league, and we mostly follow her story, and she’s the only character who addresses the audience. If the show was limited to Baker’s perspective, and was structured as her recalling her memories, it would be much stronger for it. As it is, Amanda Trapp plays eighteen characters throughout the course of “Diamond Girls”, and the result is a messy, rambling series of conversations that don’t have enough drive to do the story justice. This is no fault of Trapp’s though; her performance is endlessly endearing, and she keeps the material alive with her exuberance, throwing herself into each new role with gusto. The script just gets in her way too often, as she’s forced to act out all parts of a conversation, sometimes between four people, and even altering her costumes in between characters. Trapp creates unique voices and physicality for all the roles she takes on, but there’s just so many threads that it’s often unclear or hard to follow.

Telling this story as a traditional play with a large cast, with Trapp in the leading role of Baker, would have been a better choice. Otherwise, I’d prefer to see the character take more of a personal touch, with the other roles being those she encounters, filtered through her eyes. As it is, the production gives the feeling that they simply couldn’t find a cast to fill it. There’s so many balls in the way, many of which are dropped and never picked up again. “Diamond Girls” makes a solid attempt to convey the difficulty faced by these women as they fought against the traditional expectations of their gender, but it fails to connect on a real emotional level. There’s a limited sense of the time it’s portraying - a throwaway line about segregation feels like lip-service – and Trapp is limited by the amount of stage business she’s forced to handle.

If you’re interested in the history of these incredible women, I’d probably recommend just watching “A League of their Own”; however, Amanda Trapp’s performance is delightful and manages to keep interest even when the things start to drag, and there are some good moments in here. It’s definitely a story worth telling; it’s a shame it wasn’t told a little better.

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)