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"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
"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
“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
“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
"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
"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 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
“'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
“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
"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
“'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
“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 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
“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
“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
"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
“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
"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
“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
“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
"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
“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
See it if you would like a well crafted drama on a sports theme but including many tangential issues. A tad predictable, but still worthwhile.
Don't see it if the subject of tennis bores you.
See it if You’re a tennis fan. Shows 2 players in the semi-finals at the US Open. Shows what they’re thinking about as thry’re Playiing. Flashacks.
Don't see it if If you’re not a tennis fan, you might be bored. I was.
See it if You’re a tennis fan or are a type A personality or feel that what you do is who you are. Clever staging and acting provide realism.
Don't see it if If you aren’t a sports fan or need a more compelling plot than two tennis rivals acting out their insecurities on stage.
See it if Delve into the minds of two competing athletes and their spouses. Their insecurities, setbacks in life, and personal challenges.
Don't see it if You want more intensity and depth. This is a pleasant, moderately dramatic exploration of four characters and their relationships.
See it if Like Tennis, are interested in the inner thoughts/lives of professional athletes, like plays that go back and forth in time
Don't see it if Want a musical, aren't interested in the potential humanity of professional athletes, want a traditional plotted play
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're impressed by some vivid writing and intense performances. Has many transfixing moments.
Don't see it if you expect to be involved or care passionately about the characters lives.
See it if you want to see a story about two couples. One is trying to have a baby while the other is in a toxic relationship.
Don't see it if you are expecting this to be about tennis. Has nothing to do with the sport of tennis
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.
See it if you enjoy sports and understanding how the game consumes the athletes and affects all aspects of the athletes' lives
Don't see it if you want to see some realistic tennis moves, since it's obvious the actors' moves show that they never played tennis.
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 You want to experience a different type of play in which tennis serves as the vehicle to discuss various life issues. Cast is excellent.
Don't see it if This type of play is not your cup of tea.It has a cast of four and the running time is 90 minutes. It is an entertaining experience.
See it if You adore championship tennis. If you do, add extra points to the score I gave it. Good insight on what it takes to play at that caliber.
Don't see it if Watching tennis bores you and you've read enough on what it takes, in addition to raw talent, to play at that level
See it if You like an intelligent script that’s well performed. Highlights emotional and physical price for athletic achievement.
Don't see it if You like complex staging or plotting.
See it if Psychological exploration of 2 tennis champs & rivals; what drives them & how they maintain motivation. Interesting premise, well acted.
Don't see it if You want a lot of action - this is mostly talk. Choreographed tennis moves, plus use of scoreboard, are effective & clever.
See it if You have ever completely devoted yourself in a competition or to a goal. Great acting by all four performers, particularly the males.
Don't see it if Talkie shows give you a headache. Or if you have never given your full effort to a project, belief , et al.
See it if Ziegler's tennis drama strives to realize two players mind set in competition & in life Fine actors hold our attention on a fab US Open set
Don't see it if Drama veers between the inspired & the mundane and is a little slow No new insights while Upchurch's effective staging often double faults
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 you love the stomach-turning intensity of a well-played, back-and-forth sports match. This play really gets that feeling right.
Don't see it if you can't relate to the competitiveness of world-class athletes. You'd be expecting politics in a play about Americans versus Russians.