Set against the high-stakes backdrop of professional tennis, this New York premiere from Roundabout serves up a richly theatrical look at what keeps us striving and why. More…
You’ve given it all to reach the top of your game. Now where do you go from here? That’s the question at the heart of Anna Ziegler’s new play 'The Last Match.' It’s the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and two tennis greats are facing off in the match of their lives. Tim Porter, the aging all-American favorite, wants to prove to the world, his wife and himself that he’s still a champion. Hot-headed rising star Sergei Sergeyev struggles to believe he truly deserves to beat his lifelong hero.
"Ziegler manages to dramatize a very realistic and quite exciting tennis match between perfectly matched players. Under Upchurch’s streamlined direction, Bethel and Mickiewicz speak the body language of the court. Invisible balls are served, chased, returned and missed with grace and power by two toned athletes wielding invisible rackets...Like those invisible balls, the dialogue whizzes by at warp speed." Full Review
"An excellent ensemble...The energetic direction by Gayle Taylor Upchurch effortlessly brings us onto the court of a live tennis match without ever feeling unnatural...The simplicity of this play, and the pace with which it moves, masks a much more profound discourse about ambition, pressure, success, failure, and purpose—subjects we can all relate to...'The Last Match' is an exhilarating and smart exploration of the athlete’s psyche." Full Review
“What Ziegler builds is less of a contrast study and more of a mirror...By exploring the thoughts running across their minds with each game, Ziegler is able to manipulate time with the precision of a clockmaker...Ziegler's play is efficient at showcasing juxtapositions that reveal things unknown to the characters without allowing us to condescend them...'The Last Match' poses questions on the nature of our purpose, and whether we can alter our destiny.” Full Review
“In this sharp, funny look at what it takes to win, and what happens if you do, tennis is like life: sometimes you come up aces and sometimes you get smacked with a ball...Ziegler and director Upchurch do a fantastic job of creating a riveting, well-paced match without the benefit of an actual tennis court...It feels real thanks to terrific design...Ziegler has an excellent ear for crackling dialogue...For both tennis and non-tennis fans, ‘The Last Match’ scores.” Full Review
“In Ziegler’s ‘The Last Match’ two tennis stars go head to head in a quarterfinals match at the U.S. Open...Much of the play consists of these guys' thoughts during their volleys, which are ingeniously staged by Upchurch, interspersed with off-court scenes with their women...All four actors are superb, the guys absolutely believable as tennis players, the women compelling and often poignant...I thoroughly enjoyed this play and think you will too.” Full Review
"Ziegler and Upchurch rely on the aura of make-believe one can bring to the theater, plus the expertise of a top-notch cast of four...It is quite amazing how much excitement is achieved, and how much insight is communicated about all four individuals as well as about the sport...I do find that it could be trimmed some, as there tends to be repetition of some aspects...However, even as is, this is excellent, involving theater." Full Review
"Ziegler’s incisive, spare dialogue and Gaye Taylor Unchurch’s inventive staging manage to give a sense of the ecstatic blood-rush of competition and how it drives these two men...Bethel captures Tim’s charismatic confidence without being arrogant and Alex Mickiewicz’s takes full advantage of the juicier challenge of combining Sergei’s Slavic temper with his devastating insecurity...We follow the points just as eagerly as if we were at the real match." Full Review
“'The Last Match' is a vivid and interestingly structured take on the tennis metaphor...When Bethel and Mickiewicz get into position and play another round in the tense match, their physicality is authentic and exciting to watch...Under Ms. Upchurch's steady direction the men convincingly tackle the physical and emotional nuances of their roles...Ultimately, this is a tough look at life in the fast lane of professional tennis." Full Review
“We are told early on that, 'in those kinds of matches, there is tension all the way through.' If this production, though well acted and visually compelling, does not fully live up to that promise, it does at least serve up a volley of poignant moments amid funny acts of courtship...The play’s more serious challenge is the presentational style in which it is written...Tensions deflate...Issues are undercut...The games of the heart these people play deserve a richer backdrop.” Full Review
"The match is graceful and powerful with precision as simultaneous body motions...The play, like a tennis match, portrays lives moving back and forth in time sequences, giving glimpses into the relationships of the two couples...The men are physically adept and display great emotional fortitude in their suffering and desires...'The Last Match' is an interesting premise for a play but you’ll have an edge of enjoyment if it’s a sport in which you participate." Full Review
“It’s most beautifully staged, and solidly performed, and while we are in it, the rush of the competitive match engages, and compels us forward...It’s a well balanced game, and no matter who wins, the play is worth watching. But as with most spectator sports, being in that moment of play is gripping, but rarely does the game last in our hearts beyond the event. The adrenaline fades as fast as it was produced. Here, with ‘The Last Match’, the end result is the same.” Full Review
“'The Last Match,' an occasionally humorous, heartfelt attempt to explore not only the competitive dynamic between two top players but the personal…matters that collide with their professional ambitions…Aside from the gradual revelation of who these people are and what drives them, there's very little plot...There's nothing especially unusual or eye-opening about any of these things but Ziegler at least gives her actors theatrically vivid things to say and do.” Full Review
"The concept of the match as a platform for backstories is an interesting one, but I didn’t think it was handled particularly well. I found much of the material a bit trite. The ending may be appropriate, but it doesn’t satisfy. The cast perform well, although I can’t vouch for the verisimilitude of the tennis strokes...Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s direction is fluid. If you don’t know anything about tennis scoring, you may find yourself adrift." Full Review
"Despite Upchurch’s energetic direction, 'The Last Match' has a familiar feel. Ziegler serves insults and insights with impressive velocity, but the play doesn’t offer much new spin on its central questions about winning, disappointment and pressure. Mickiewicz and Payne...give ace performances; so do Bethel and Winters, whose arc is more melancholy. When the play’s balls stay in the air, it’s largely thanks to these four talented players." Full Review
“Gaye Taylor Upchurch's nimble direction keeps this 95-minute play moving at a clip, but Ziegler's story, with plot points that feel like easy lobs, never gets our hearts racing...The story's most interesting moments unfold as the two off-court couples attempt to make sense of their relationships...That's not to say that ‘The Last Match’ isn't worthwhile or satisfying theater — only that it sticks with gentle serves rather than trying for that ace.” Full Review
"Ziegler’s four-character play succumbs early to the hypnotic, adrenaline-draining rhythms of a gentle, endless practice rally. Exciting though they may be to watch in the stadium or on the screen, sports seldom make for gripping theater...The performances rarely transcend the expected formula of such back stories...There is the stuff of an elegant (if less than original) essay in 'The Last Match' on how we invest in athletes as symbols and reflections of our own mortality.” Full Review
"The mimed game is incessantly interrupted by their interior thoughts and reminiscences...This rings false. It seems much more likely that world-class tennis players focus exclusively on their game...The characters we get to know are so well drawn and appealing that we’re almost willing to forgive the awkwardness of the play’s overall structure. 'The Last Match' would probably make more sense as a short story...But then we would miss out on the four winning performances." Full Review
"It never reaches the explosive climax that it seems to be heading toward...If the director, Gaye Taylor Upchurch, can't solve the play's ultimate sense of irresolution, she has at least found four actors who are a pleasure to be with...Everything about ‘The Last Match’ is as slick and professional as one could wish, but for the fact that Ziegler has found no satisfying way to end it...’The Last Match’ ends up scoring a deuce.” Full Review
“An intense, talky drama...Ziegler’s main point – perhaps her entire point – is to remind or enlighten us that star athletes are human beings too...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...’The Last Match’ is likely to stir up mixed emotions in its audience...If I had to give the play a tennis score, I think it would be deuce.” Full Review
“The flashbacks never achieve sufficient dramatic momentum...The play works best in its more lighthearted moments...Tennis fans will certainly appreciate the attention to detail in this production. On the other hand, if you're not terribly familiar with the sport, you may often find your mind wandering...Thanks to the performers' efforts, 'The Last Match' has its entertaining moments. But much like an athletic event that's gone on for too long, you'll be relieved when it's finally over.” Full Review
“Anna Ziegler attempts to take us inside the minds of two athletes as they battle it out on the tennis court...I’m not sure what tennis stars think when they’re in the middle of a match, but it’s undoubtedly not what Tim and Sergei spout as they play air tennis on the Laura Pels stage...‘The Last Match’ is that rare play that might be improved if it were a two-hander.” Full Review
“With so many interruptions, it hardly makes for riveting theater, and it never becomes as riveting as a genuine tennis match can be, even though one is ostensibly taking place from the beginning of the play to the end, which essentially presents a chronological series of sets between the two players, the Russian Sergei (Alex Mickiewicz) and the American Tim (Wilson Bethel).” Full Review
"If ever a play accurately summed up Aristotle’s definition of drama, it’s Anna Ziegler’s ‘The Last Match’...'Match' aspires to something bigger, more meaningful, than a tennis match. Ziegler writes great repartee, which is nothing to sniff at. But her play is formless and whatever point it hopes to score is lost in a squishy ending. It doesn’t work, either as metaphor or tragedy – not even as imitation.” Full Review
See it if You love tennis and want to know what is inside a players mind. It really makes you think about what it's like to be a professional
Don't see it if You don't like flashbacks the story was a little hard to follow at times
See it if you want to see a well-crafted, well-acted drama that delves into a surprising number of issues and experiences for a 90-min sports play.
Don't see it if you cannot stand not knowing how it ends. It does not get wrapped up in a bow, and you are left to decide for yourself what the outcome was.
See it if theater that considers life issues in relation to individuals excites you. Loving tennis or knowing nothing about it, the drama still works
Don't see it if If you like your theater fluffy. Each of the four characters is driven to achieve a personal goal that they believe will change their life.
See it if If you love the game of tennis 🎾this well matched duce volleys thru their career & the ❤️ of their romances on the pro circuit
Don't see it if If you hate tennis.
Also Well acted directed and staged !
See it if you can connect to an athletes mind. A great dive into the mind of a competitor and the struggles that come with being the best.
Don't see it if you need a lot of bells and whistles. This play is presented plainly to the audience with simple staging and very inventive stage direction
See it if you want to see a play that wonderfully depicts how some super-competitive people are driven.
Don't see it if you have no interest in tennis or understanding competitive people.
See it if you love fabulous staging, themes of the challanges of becoming the best at something and how to stay there. Relationship stories and tennis
Don't see it if You dont like competitive sports.
See it if You want to see a great sports oriented piece of theater that won’t bore you to death. Great acting and staging!
Don't see it if You absolutely hate Tennis or sports oriented material. Cannot sit through shows with no intermission.
See it if you love tennis and moreso, you like metaphorical explorations of life purpose and stages of life.
Don't see it if tennis is a complete turnoff and you don't want to look beyond the storyline.
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