Review: The Last Match at B Street Theatre

The Last Match

Smell that? That’s the smell of victory, and excessive perspiration.

Smell that? That’s the smell of victory, and excessive perspiration.

Photo courtesy of Rudy Meyers Photography

Rated 4.0

Coordinated timing and precise rhythm are crucial in both theater and sports. Playwright Anna Ziegler combines those winning elements to bring both worlds together in her one-act, 90-minute drama The Last Match, about a rising star facing off with a tennis legend at the men’s U.S. Open semi-finals.

Little did B Street Theatre imagine that the plot would mirror one of the defining moments of this year’s Wimbledon matches—when 15-year-old Coco Gauff unseated tennis legend Venus Williams.

The Last Match explores the back stories of two tennis players dueling it out—six-time champion Tim Porter and rising Russian star Sergei Sergeyev. Porter, played by B Street regular Jason Kuykendall, knows he has reached his peak and is facing the downslope of his career. And Sergei, played by Hunter Hoffman, is just entering the upper-echelon of sports, full of spunk, spark and smugness.

The fun part of The Last Match is that it’s presented as a real-time match—all action is on the tennis court with the actors holding rackets and simulating realistic physical play with serves, slams, lobs and returns. Interspersed in the nonstop-action are personal side stories that include the players’ two wives: Elisabeth Nunziato as Porter’s wife, who put her own career on hold for hopes of a family, and Stephanie Altholz as Sergeyev’s domineering Russian wife.

The tennis court set is simple—though the close-up projected videos can be distracting when the lips don’t always coordinate with the dialogue. But overall, this is a winning match, with a talented twosome who manage keep their balls in play at all times.