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A CurtainUp Review
That Championship Season
Jason Miller's play, winner the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, doesn't have what it takes to go the distance. Dialogue laden with racism, bigotry and risqué sexual terms might have broken new ground in 1972, but in 2009 it sounds tired and dated and it feels like the actors know it too. They try too hard, stepping on each other's lines and racing through as though trying to slam dunk a game winner. Lamos fails to coach the team into a cohesive group and the pace earns a technical foul for stomping on some dialogue that would have more impact if allowed to arc into the basket instead.
In the play, the former teammates have gathered for a reunion that turns ugly when big-man-on-campus turned mayor George (Robert Clohessy) discovers that Phil (Skipp Sudduth), who is having an affair with his wife, might pull his support and finance his opponent instead. George's manager, James (Lou Liberatore), may switch teams too ad has ambitions of running for the post himself. When Phil wants James removed from the campaign, the slighted teammate threatens to make the affair public. Coach (John Doman) bosses the lot around and tries to tell them all what to do. He has his own dirt on George's opponent that's sure to turn the election in George's favor, he tells them: The opponent had a communist in his family (add this to discussion about George and his wife institutionalizing their "mongoloid" child and you see how the issues seem holdovers from another era). Meanwhile, James' alcoholic brother, Tom (Tom Nelis), is strangely quiet and divulges a secret about the team's trophy and the real reason why the fifth and absent member of the squad refuses to attend any of these annual reunions at the home of their abusive, bigoted coach (
The actors, with the exception of Liberatore and Sudduth who seem comfortably suited up in their characters, are miscast. Doman doesn't seem obnoxious enough; Clohessy resorts to yelling most of his lines to try to make them sound convincing. Nelis never seems inebriated, even when he falls down a flight of stairs. His lines, some of the most humorous in the piece, sound like quips rather than the droll humor flavored by alcohol that they are.
Designer David Gallo's depiction of the masculine Coach's house, complete with championship trophy resting on the mantle piece, gives the actors a nice setting. However, overall, we're left feeling that this team is playing at less than their potential.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide