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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "The Last Match" at Laura Pels Theatre
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "The Last Match" at Laura Pels Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager
Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer

Presents:
The Last Match
(The Last Match Web Page)

By Anna Ziegler
Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

With:
Wilson Bethel, Alex Mickiewicz
Natalia Payne, Zoë Winters

At
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY
(Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre Website)
212.719.1300

Set Design: Tim Mackabee
Costume Design: Montana Blanco
Lighting Design: Bradley King
Sound Design: Bray Poor
Dialect Coach: Ben Furey
Production Stage Manager: Samantha Watson
Casting: Carrie Gardner, CSA
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
The Last Match General Manager: Nicholas J. Caccavo
Director of Marketing: Elizabeth Kandel
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Director of Development: Christopher Nave
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 27, 2017


After attending tonight’s engaging performance of Roundabout Theatre Company’s The Last Match by Anna Ziegler, I am determined to attend a semifinal and final US Open Tennis Championship match in Queens. I was left eager to experience the actual live event, as Ms. Ziegler does not set up an actual, hard court, not even a projected one. She has Wilson Bethel, as Tim, and Alex Mickiewicz, as Sergei, facing the audience, swinging their arms as if with racquets and balls. Under the direction of Gaye Taylor Upchurch, Tim, the 35ish tennis pro, and Sergei, the 25ish competitor, perform beneath giant rows of championship court floodlights and a changing sky, depending on time and weather. The one-act play, however, drew me in, immediately, and I did not want it to end so soon. In much tighter chemistry with Tim and Sergei, than the chemistry instigated by the athletes’ mutual, on-court mind game, was the chemistry between Tim and his wife, Mallory (Zoë Winters), and that between Sergei and his girlfriend, Galina (Natalia Payne). Mallory and Galina sit within side boxes, separately, rooting vociferously for their man. The women are relentless, avid fans and coaches, yelling and gesturing with emotional and psychological support. And, the men are willing and hungry for the attention and motivation.

During the off-court lulls, we learn about the backstories of Tim and Sergei. Tim is approaching retirement age, with no fixed post-career, and his wife, Mallory, has had miscarriages and an in-utero baby’s death. Sergei and Galina have commitment issues, and Sergei is haunted by estrangement from his parents, prior to an accident. Mallory was an athletic coach, and Galina was an actress. Mallory and Galina, now, seem to exist in the present, trying to self-actualize as an existing and as a wannabe wife. Their self-concepts are ingrained with their men’s championship awards. Those prestigious awards reinforce the raison d’être of their years of sacrifice and solitude, while Tim and Sergei were elsewhere, practicing and competing. All four actors were compelling in the moment, with Mr. Mickiewicz and Ms. Payne delivering their dialogue in strong, Russian accents. Kudos to the dialect coach. When Sergei and Galina fought, and bitterly they did, they were never out of authentic Russian enunciation or demeanor. You just knew love was beneath the fracas, and so it was. When Tim and Mallory fought, there was marital history and infant mortality. Their future seemed on less stable ground. Yet, we rooted for the couples as much as we rooted for the two tennis pros.

Ms. Upchurch keeps the action and tension tightly wound and intertwined. The four monologues and tennis duo/couple dialogues were mostly gripping. Tim Mackabee’s scenic design, stark and well-suited, kept the focus on the spotlighted quests for success, both on and off the court. The score boards, floodlights, and side boxes were professionally conceived. Bradley King’s lighting design made those rows of round lights, from above, riveting. The occasional, imagined indoor scenes, at Tim and Mallory’s home, were lit diversely and warmly. Brad Poor’s sound design kept the whooshing of tennis balls, hit overhead and sideways, realistic and transporting. Montana Blanco’s great costumes, not just the tennis wear, but Mallory’s gym wear and Galina’s sexy heels and outfits (she was in girlfriend, seductive mode), were eye-catching. Future productions of this play could have a realistic, projected court, with racquets and balls in some fashion, as an alternative, but in its present stage design, Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match is certainly worth experiencing, and you’ll probably pre-order a ticket for the 2018 US Open.








For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net