THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
This is about a group of men who, after 25 years, get together again for a high-school basketball team reunion. After drinking and chumming, the circle of friends soon find long-hidden anger and resentment resurfacing which become muddled with their current mid-life problems. Soon their long-time friendships are collapsing before them.
The Championship Season has a cast to die for. It’s got Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Noth, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland. So this is a serious amount of testosterone up on the stage. The play takes place in 1972, and the idea is the coach has gotten his championship team together to kind of celebrate and the coach has also gone through a serious medical emergency. So they’re trying to do some recounting of his life, and one of his teammates is the mayor of the town. One of the other team members is the principal of the high school who is running the mayor’s campaign, whose brother is a drunk, and then there’s one of the team players who is a somewhat shady but incredibly successful business man in town.The play actually received a Pulitzer Prize in 1973, but it really feels a little dated. It’s not that the cast doesn’t do a relatively good job. The second act is significantly better than the first. But it’s very hard to judge an ensemble piece when it first opens, because the cast hasn’t had a lot of time to really get together and learn each other and sort of become a well-oiled unit. And the second act, again, if nothing else, that they’ve had the whole first act to get used to each other again. So I liked the performances much better in the second act than the first, but the play does seem a bit dated and the references are really grim. They’re very misogynistic and sexist and racist about almost everybody. The ending doesn’t feel very organic. These are guys who are clearly damaged human beings and part of the damaging may actually have been from the coach, but the coach sort of brings them all together and makes them understand that we’re all in this together and you can’t do it alone and yadda yadda, but it feels somewhat unsatisfying, and maybe that’s part of the problem with the play. However, having seen that kind of star power on stage, it’s certainly fun to see. Do I think it’s going to last? No. Do I think it’s going to get a whole lot of awards? I don’t. But is it fun to go to? It is. Three stars.