THEATER REVIEW: “The Play About The Coach” by Paden Fallis

Watching Paden Fallis (writer and director) perform this one-man show about a basketball coach whose team is moments from either victory or defeat is a staggering experience in the tension felt on the sidelines of a major game, even though we already know that the big question post-game is whether the Coach’s decisive call was the right one.

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With this central tension already in place, then, we are waiting to see which call it is that’s wrong – what’s the losing move – rather than being held in a state of suspense over the outcome of the game. That the play still contains tension and movement is a credit both to Fallis and his subject matter. Not being a basketball fan, I have to rely on my plus-one’s assessment of the accuracy of the game’s portrayal. The show passed this test without reservation.

It’s the small details that make The Play About The Coach such an authentic experience: the set, papered with templates depicting possible plays, the way Fallis contorts himself around his character’s experience and the specifics about his players – each of whom grows a personality and temperament before our eyes. Clearly a skilled performer, Fallis takes a one-man show about a single character and stretches its reality to encompass the personalities of everyone in that character’s life at the moment being portrayed.

There are elements of The Play About The Coach that indicate a longer version might be in the works: small plot spurs like the increasingly-frantic phone calls the Coach receives throughout this major game in his career, which present then fade away without real impact. The calls, as well as the Coach’s conflicts with his assistant could benefit from further elaboration, and in the play’s present form are something of a red herring, given their lack of resolution

Of particular interest is the fact that this production raised its funding through Kickstarter, perhaps offering a template for other plays needing to raise money for runs in NYC.

Playing at the 4th street theater until March 17, 2013.

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