Following the end of the fifth season of Suits, Patrick J. Adams has segued to another impressive role as one-fourth of the impressive cast of the new play The Last Match, which is running now through Mar. 13 at The Old Globe in San Diego.
Tennis may not sound like a riveting subject for a stage play, but it is in Last Match, which serves as a bona fide reminder of the power of live theatre. Playwright Anna Ziegler tells the story of a head-to-head battle between American champion Tim Porter (Adams) and Russian up and comer Sergei Sergeyev (Alex Mickiewicz) – but it’s more than just a tennis match.
It’s also the story of the players’ relationships with their respective wives, Mallory (Troian Bellisario) and Galina (Natalia Payne), their incredibly different upbringings and how each man got to their key US Open semifinal matchup both on and off the court. Although they represent different countries and are on opposite lines of the bracket, Tim and Sergei may actually be much more alike than either man would believe.
The Last Match features a script that feels like a tennis match of its own: fast-paced, bouncing back and forth between points of view and points in time. The more than able quartet of actors are required to vacillate between humor, confrontation, and emotion constantly over the production’s 90 minutes, and they’re aided by an intimate venue that puts the audience sometimes inches from the action.
Suits fans who only know Adams as Mike Ross haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen him in live theatre; as impressive as he is on television, he crackles with energy on stage, like someone who was born for it. He creates a Tim Porter who is both a larger than life hero and simultaneously just a man, and once again demonstrates an unbelievable range. This is a more than able follow-up to his marvelous work in Bill Cain’s 9 Circles.
Bellisario, who recently reprised her role as Mike’s ex-girlfriend Claire on Suits, more than holds her own opposite him – in fact, sometimes she’s the one taking him to school. It’s to her credit and that of Payne that the characters of Mallory and Galina, who could easily have been relegated aside, pop as much as their spouses. One feels like they could have their own separate play (perhaps Ziegler could be persuaded to write a sequel the other way round).
Mickiewicz and Adams create their own interesting rivalry on the court, with the former creating a character that the audience at first roots against and yet slowly comes to almost root for. Sergei might be Tim’s proverbial enemy, but the more Mickiewicz reveals about him you come to understand his own equally important stake in the match. He and Adams dominate the stage the way their characters are supposed to dominate the court, and you’ll genuinely be wanting to know who wins – or if it even matters.
Whether you know tennis or you’ve never seen it, this is one piece of entertainment that you don’t want to miss – and there are just days left to see it.
The Last Match runs now through Mar. 13; tickets and complete information about the play are available here.
You can also read our interview with Patrick about the Suits season finale.