Off-Broadway Shows

THE LAST MATCH

Tickets from $79   Buy Tickets

THE LAST MATCH
The Last Match


Cititour.com Review
You may never watch competitive professional sports – especially a tennis championship – the same way after viewing “The Last Match,” Anna Ziegler’s intense, talky drama now premiering at the Rounabout’s Laura Pels Theatre. In this unusual play, Ziegler puts us directly into the heads of U.S. Open semifinalists Tim Porter (Wilson Bethel), a 34-year-old American who is considering retiring while he’s at the very top of the sport, and Sergei Sergeyev (Alex Mickiewicz), a very talented if hot-headed Russian-born player still struggling to break into the top 10.

For 95 minutes, we watch these two serve, swerve and volley around the court (never using rackets or balls, but imitating the movements of tennis pros brilliantly under Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s fine direction) on Tim Mackabee’s clever recreation of Flushing Meadow. But we quickly learn their heads are only sometimes focused on lobs, top shorts, and aces. (A rudimentary interest and knowledge of tennis does prove helpful here.)

In fact, Ziegler’s main point – perhaps her entire point – is to remind or enlighten us that star athletes are human beings too, obsessed with wives and lovers, parents (living and dead), past indiscretions and future legacies. Indeed, what makes the work both engrossing and slightly frustrating is just how much has happened to both men off the court in their relatively short times on Earth (Porter is 34 and Sergeyev is 25) – which we both witness in flashbacks and hear about in lengthy monologues.

For Porter, whom Bethel imbues with a well-orchestrated mix of aw-shucks charm and uber-American cockiness, his “Achilles heel” is physically not in his foot, but in his back, which buckles at inopportune moments. But his bigger impediment is a slightly troublesome relationship with his wife Mallory (a fine Zoe Winters in an underwritten role), a former tennis player who has undergone numerous failed pregnancies before finally producing a son through IVF.

Now a father (and too conveniently, a fatherless father), Porter must grapple with his commitment to his family versus his devotion to the sport that has catapulted him to the top. (Oddly, no mention is made of the millions of dollars now being earned by high-level pros!)

Rather more compelling is the saga of Sergevey, whom Mickiewicz brings to fiery, complex life with a balls-to-the-walls portrayal that is almost literally exhausting. He is fueled by, among other things, passion and doubt, an inner desire to prove himself as good as his idol (while never fully believing it), and a need to honor his late parents (whom he resents for dying). Above all, though, he is driven by the ambition of his sharp-tongued, sharp-witted girlfriend Galina (Natalia Payne, a consistent scene-stealer in a star-making turn), who clearly has enough belief in Sergei for the both of them.

Like so many works of fiction that want us to sympathize with rich and famous, “The Last Match” is likely to stir up mixed emotions in its audience. (“Poor them.” “Oh wait, poor me.”) Indeed, if I had to give the play a tennis score, I think it would be deuce.

By Brian Scott Lipton

Visit the Site
https://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/The-Last-Match.aspx

Cast
Wilson Bethel, Alex Mickiewicz, Natalia Payne, Zoë Winters

Open/Close Dates
Opening 9/28/2017
Closing 12/24/2017

Box Office
212-719-1300

Theatre Info
Laura Pels Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
Map

 

Comments



Booking.com