Theater review: 'That Championship Season' -- 2 stars
That Championship Season
“That Championship Season,” Jason Miller’s drama about former high school athletes making drunken confessions in front of their coach, might have been genuinely shocking when it premiered in 1972 at the Public Theater. It successfully transferred to Broadway and even won a Pulitzer Prize.
But as currently revived on Broadway for the first time — with an all-star cast including Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Noth, Jason Patric (the playwright’s son), Brian Cox and Jim Gaffigan — the only thing you’ll find shocking is how terribly the play has aged.
It observes a retired high school basketball coach (Cox) who has invited four of his best players to his home on the 20th anniversary of their state-championship-winning game.
They have gone on to become a wealthy businessman (Noth), a corrupt small town mayor (Gaffigan), a school principal (Sutherland) and a stumbling drunk (Patric).
Once together, the men proceed to drink heavily and recall the good old days. But soon enough secrets start to spill and feelings get hurt.
The whole thing comes across as a predictable bore with little plot and one-dimensional personalities. Moreover, the anti-Semitic and prejudicial attitudes expressed by many of the characters are irritating and offensive.
Gregory Mosher, who staged last season’s acclaimed revival of “A View From the Bridge,” has not brought any new insight to the drama and fails to elicit strong performances from most of the cast.
Sutherland is wasted as a subservient lackey with false teeth. Noth is typecast as a pompous philanderer and sleepwalks through his role. Patric overplays his character’s drunken binge to the point of being ridiculous.
On the other hand, Gaffigan is credibly insecure, and Cox makes the biggest impression as a coach past his prime who is unable to adapt to a politically correct environment.
If you go: “That Championship Season” plays at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre through May 29. 242 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, thatchampionshipseason.com.