What it's about.
The play takes place in the semifinals of the US open, between all-American, soon to retire Tim Porter, and the dashing and quick tempered Russian Sergei.
I make it to the theatre relatively early, and I walk into a pre-show talk, led by an education dramaturge at the Laura Pels Theatre. For those that do not know, a dramaturge in simpler terms is kinda like a historian but for theatre. Kinda. So the talk is basically a discussion about the development of the play and the playwright, Anna Ziegler. It was very informative, and being the nerd I am, I grasped onto every little factoid.
You see, The Last Match is about tennis. Me? I have absolutely zero knowledge on any sport. When picking this show, I had just recently seen Emma Stone in Battle of The Sexes, which also revolves around tennis, so my decision was largely skewed by that. And I do not regret it.
As I take my seat in the theatre, I find myself staring hypnotically at the set, which is a recreation of the the Arthur Ashe stadium in Flushing, Queens. This is where the US Open is held. It looked so cool, I mean, I've never been to the Arthur Ashe Stadium, or any stadium for that matter, but I was still in awe of it.
I have to say, me, being a total outsider did not feel excluded in the show. Mind you I know nothing, zip, zero about tennis. The show, while tennis was a huge topic, dove deep into the human beings behind the tennis players.
Tom and Sergei are playing in the semifinals of the US open. They are in the match, but sequences of flashbacks occur to get more background info on the lives of these players. Oh, BTW, there were no tennis rackets or balls, everything was mimed. And even though no objects were used, sound effects were incorporated, and it was really cool and intense. As I was watching them play in the match, I was reminded of this:
All joking aside, there were moments in the show that really made me feel for the guys. Not just them, but anyone really, who is in the spotlight, and has the constant pressure to stay at the top of their game. And it's never enough, as articulated by both Sergei and Tim.
The clip below is from Feud: Bette and Joan. Start watching from 1:27. In this scene, the two women are rival actresses. They express the same sentiment expressed by Tim and Sergei.
This desire, passion, drive, call it what you will, is good and bad. It's good to be ambitious, but sometimes, ambition can make you blind to other realities, and lose sight of what's really important.
For Tim, it's this desire to want to be the best and remain #1 that has made him distance himself from his wife, who has had multiple miscarriages.
By the end of the show, my heart was melted by Sergei. The moment this happened was when he finally let down his walls. SPOILER ALERT…DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU. He reveals that his parents died in a car crash while on their way to see Sergei play in his first match when he was only 14. This moment of vulnerability, made me want to go and hug him.
And then, there’s the women of the show. Galvina and Mallory, who play Sergei’s girlfriend and Tom’s wife, respectively. That is merely one of their identities, however, they are not just that. Galvina and Mallory are strong forces, and though they are not on the court, their presence is strongly felt by the men. You see, prior to being "Tim Porter's wife", Mallory was actually a rising star in the tennis world. She left all of that behind after she got injured, and since then, her main priority has been to be "Tim Porter's wife". However, in several scenes, we can see that she has a strong influence on Tim and his overall performance on the court. The same is applicable to Galvina.
Okay, so being that the play is called The Last Match, I was expecting to eventually find out who won the match. I mean, after all, Tim and Sergei are playing in the match this whole time. And just when the match resumes and it is in its final round (for tennis afficionados, I apologize if this is this the wrong terminology, again... #outsider over here, do spare me.), THE LIGHTS GO DARK!
So, who won the match?
I high key hope it was Sergei. #TEAMSERGEI.
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