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From 102 member  reviews
Members say: Great staging, Clever, Entertaining, Ambitious, Relevant

About the show

It's 1973, and Houston's Astrodome is playing host to one of the biggest cultural events of all time as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs face-off in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match.


From the creative team behind 'Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally', 'Balls' is a high-intensity theatrical retelling of this unforgettable match and the cultural debates it ignited around sexism, women-in-sport, and equality. One Year Lease's high-energy physical style attempts to capture the carnival atmosphere of the original event, and features a shot-by-shot re-imagining of the entire match. 

Member Reviews (102)


Great staging, Clever, Entertaining, Ambitious, Relevant
Avg Score

A '70s spectacle with astonishing stagecraft

See it if you can appreciate the impact of '70s cultural icons like Billie Jean King and Helen Reddy. Open to an evening leaning more to a spectacle?

Don't see it if you need a traditional evening of a linear play. This is an event with depth mixed with frolic. The angling of the net is a brilliant effect

At 80 minutes, "balls" is way too long, Banal, Cliched, Excellent staging, Insipid

See it if you want to see some clever staging by Ianthe Demos and Nick Flint.

Don't see it if you want to be hit over the head with the play's themes. You enjoy plays with well-developed characters, and has an arc.

Confusing, Disappointing, Dizzying, Excruciatingly loud, Intense

See it if You are a huge tennis fan and need to follow every single aspect of the sport. You saw the movie and want to compare the treatment.

Don't see it if You can’t deal with dialogue that is almost 100% shouted. There is almost no vocal variety.You require a forward moving plot !

Clever, Ambitious, Disappointing, Excruciating, Frenzied but slow

See it if You are interested in headlines that were contemporaneous with Riggs vs King match. Tries to tell 3 meaningful stories within the matchplay

Don't see it if You dont like lights and frantic movement, overlapping stories, and overall cacophony.

Also In a year that saw the quietly lovely (I was in the minority of people... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Relevant, Indulgent, Great staging, Quirky

See it if you’d enjoy a drama about the King-Riggs matches interspersed with the story of how gender constructs affect an unrelated romance.

Don't see it if you would prefer a linear plot that focuses only on the participants in the famous tennis match.

Also Absolutely loved the diversity in casting.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Great staging, Dizzying, Relevant

See it if an overly ambitious piece of theater dealing with equal rights using the famous King/Riggs tennis match as its basis for metaphor.

Don't see it if you know nothing about tennis, especially its scoring or if that famous tennis match is unknown to you.

Creative, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Funny

See it if you want a show that is about much more than a tennis match. It focuses on women's rights, abortion and LGBT equality, but with humor.

Don't see it if you don't care about how gender equality has advanced in recent history.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see a great staging of THE tennis match of the century. Very creative was to keep you engaged as the match was replayed.

Don't see it if you do not like shows about the feminist movement, abortion and women and gay rights.

Also You do not need to know a lot about tennis to watch this show, but hav... Read more Read less

Great staging, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if want a bunch of themes from feminism to scandal lobbed at you (pun intended) in an immersive setting

Don't see it if want more depth as too many ideas thrown out in this short play

Ambitious, Clever, Confusing, Quirky, Indulgent

See it if only is you like tennis and know something about the history of the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match.

Don't see it if if you are a real fan of the game of tennis. You might just leave the theater running and screaming.

Also BRAVO to the director/choreographer and the production design team for... Read more Read less

Confusing, Slow

See it if you want to see a reenactment of the King/Riggs Tennis match in the 70's with lots of other encounters thrown in that make it crazy.

Don't see it if you have no interest in tennis, or seeing the King/Riggs match performed for 80 long minutes.

Clever, Wonderful staging, Dizzying, Fluffy

See it if Interest in Tennis not required, but knowing about this big match helpful. Staging was ingenious. Some of the characters were unnecessary.

Don't see it if You want a really good, serious play. If tennis bores you. If silliness on the stage annoys you.

Clever, Great staging, Relevant, Slow

See it if interesting parallel of the battle of the sexes against the modern day. learned a lot about billie jean king.

Don't see it if you have no interest in tennis, the 1970s or the topic of gender

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Edgy, Profound

See it if A show about sexism, sports, and a great talked about match in history. If you like tidbits about feminism and history in your shows

Don't see it if You just want to see a match about tennis

Indulgent, Great staging, It has its moments

See it if You are a sports fan and want a bit of fluff and some interesting staging and were interested in the King/Riggs match

Don't see it if You don’t like tennis

Clever, Entertaining, Unique, Great staging

See it if you love tennis, shows about historical events or you want to see a really uniquely staged show.

Don't see it if you don't like tennis, history or you do not like shows that do not strictly follow a linear plot.

Clever, Entertaining, Quirky, Relevant, Great staging

See it if A quirky fun piece of theater..cleverly staged, well acted -quick paced but chaotic at times -you don't need to know about infamous .match

Don't see it if You want linear totally sensible theater--you hate tennis. aren't interested in the historical match, Riggs or BJ King event.

Clever, Great staging, Slow

See it if you are fascinated with the collaborative nature of theatre. The interaction between sound, lights, actors,'s pretty masterful.

Don't see it if you want a story only focused on the tennis match. They use this as a base for other themes, which are hit and miss.

Clever, Great staging

See it if You love tennis, period pieces, clever staging, or watching the rise of gay civil rights.

Don't see it if You don't like at least two of those things

Ambitious, Cliched, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if You want to see some very good actors pull off a fun piece, creatively staged in very close quarters.

Don't see it if Getting preached to or hit over the head with “the point” of the work annoys you.

Clever, Funny, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if you want to see a light inventive take on a very familiar story. (Especially now.)

Don't see it if Imposed subplot to give show the passage of time and values given too much weight and stage time. Clowns imposed for no real reason.

Ambitious, Clever, Great staging, Tech-masterful

See it if you love seeing new ways of approaching how to tell a story, or you are fascinated by the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis event.

Don't see it if you are expecting a serious sociological study or super-quality writing/acting -- the coolest thing about this is the technical precision.

Also In "close-to" real time, the entire actual Riggs-King match is replaye... Read more Read less

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Indulgent, Intense

See it if you love shows about gender equality or have an affinity for Billie Jean King or tennis.

Don't see it if you'd like to see a well-oiled show.

Great staging, Cliched, Dated, Slow, Fluffy

See it if You’re a hardcore tennis or movement theatre fan

Don't see it if You like plays that actually *do* something.

Also A staging badly in need of a play.

Ambitious, Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Simple

See it if you will be delighted by a constantly-moving and highly creative staging and excellent design on a small but very impressive scale.

Don't see it if you are expecting a deep dive into the subject matter or anything more than a simple gloss on the complicated subject of gender equality.

January 24th, 2018
"Though this action is cleverly devised...and executed is neither tennis nor theater but a kind of hysteria. The whole play seems to be constructed backward, starting with a concept requiring a full 85 minutes of athletic representation and ending with the maddening question of how...
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January 24th, 2018
"A play with so many colliding spheres...While Armento and Lavery manage to juggle a lot in their idea-heavy and plot-light story, quantity ends up burdening a play that could have used a far more delicate touch...Stories circle King and Riggs like satellites...We're led down a rabbit hole of que...
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January 26th, 2018
"An exciting and ingenious production...A stunning show that creatively portrays the infamous tennis match...The show presents an energetic, realistic depiction of this 'Battle of the Sexes' match point by point. The narrative cleverly integrates other characters...While the production is colorfu...
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January 26th, 2018
"It's a heady mix, filled with fascinating and evocative details...Despite the richness of its themes, the play is not always successful...Sometimes too much happens at once...At times, King and Riggs end up seeming like supporting characters in their own drama...Still, 'Balls' is never dull...An...
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