By Sandi Durell
If you’re a tennis player (as I am), things can get a little hot under the collar when you want to score that point and show your mettle. But, I dare say, not anywhere as hot as in this comedy (?) where tennis is the metaphor for really bad behavior and surely doesn’t have a lot of love attached.
Andy Bragen’s assessment of competitive sports reaches new heights when the female counterparts of tennis fanatics Brian (a smug Bhavesh Patel) and Russ (a gentle Michael Braun) have a chance meeting after many years apart post college, thereby bringing their tennis playing guys together. The women, Kate (a haughty Jennifer Lim) and Leslie (a wry Jeanine Serralles), seem to have their own issues and jealousies from the get-go as they act as narrators and keen observers of their 40-ish men, acting more like bad boys as they engage in ongoing tennis matches, the women commenting on their problematic mates who unleash uncontrollable anger on and off the court as they become ‘friends.’ Their anger is oft times turned inward as neither has a steady job; feeding their frustrations.
The scenes flash forward and back (which can be wearying) as the rage builds and tempers flare. But, as females do, they attempt to assuage the situation by adding the dimension of a couples’ friendship, trying to make nice nice, meeting socially, giving the guys more than they bargained for as they continue to pursue their competition off the court.
Brian and Russ are now meeting at least three times a week, early mornings for their matches in the park, which are brutal as well as amusing, Brian with a tendency to cheat. The accusations fly when Brian accuses Russ of spilling a red drink on his antique white tennis shirt and causing a tear. It blows up in all their faces as the couples, once again, try for some normalcy over drinks away from the court. However, it’s not only the men, but also the women who practice their one-upmanship as jealousies loom heavy and accusations fly. The problem is that this scenario becomes all to repetitive and after a while goes nowhere.
The stage is simply designed with a line down the center (Amy Rubin, set design), replicating a tennis court, where Brian and Russ frequently pose, in still motion, executing a serve or backhand (cause for some laughter).
Directed by Lee Sunday Evans, the competent ensemble gives pause to relationships of all kinds! Watch the balls fly!
59e59 Theaters. 212 279-4200 www.59e59.org Run time: 80 minutes
Photos: Hunter Canning