Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, February 17, 2011

That Championship Season

Perhaps the play did win the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, but that doesn't guarantee a good show in 2011.  The play itself only ran for 144 performances in '72, and that should have been a clue.  The subject matter may have been fresh and shocking 40 years ago, but today it's like a bad re-run episode of All in the Family.  Playwright Jason Miller may have penned some good lines and started with some powder-keg material but in the end it's an over-hyped, sad, obvious, and pedantic walk down memory lane indicting men, the education system, small-town America, and the Catholic church all in one fell swoop.  The obvious topics covered (or uncovered as it were) are racism, bigotry, family duty, adultery, success (or lack thereof) and false role models.

I haven't seen a play in a very long time where the quality of the acting was so diametrically opposite to the quality of the script.  The all-star cast delivered in every way it could given the poor material.  Jason Patric, Keifer Sutherland, Brian Cox, Dan Gaffigan, and Chris Noth pour their hearts into the roles.  Trouble is, there are so many dead-ends, undeveloped story lines and lost opportunities in the script that all we're left with is the overbearing coach eternally blathering on about "what makes a winner" and "what it takes to win".  By today's standards, I think anyone (even in small-town America) would wonder why these men are so handicapped by and tied to this coach's "wisdom".  For all our faults, we're a much more open, independent and thinking society today.  I presume that Mr. Miller's desired outcome in 1972 was to see that "the emperor has no clothes", but in 2011 I think all that remains of this show is the picture of a sorry and sad past we should all regret.