Dorian Palumbo reviews LOCKER ROOM TALK at MITF

Just about everything these days seems to be getting politicized.  According to playwright Jason Paris, even high school sports isn’t spared being skewed in either a blue- or red-state direction.

fullsizeoutput_57f6The one-act play begins when former student Taylor pays a visit to his former coach while Taylor is home on winter break from college.  He’s there ostensibly to use the gym facilities while high school is out of session, but he’s clearly also there to check in with a trusted mentor about a life choice or two.

Coach, played by writer Paris, is at a point in his life where being a liberal-leaner in a Bible Belt environment is just too much to take, and his conversation with Taylor soon reveals that he’s about to make a life choice of his own and resign his position.

The rest of the play allows the two characters to delve deeper and deeper into just what, precisely, they’re willing to do to walk the liberal walk, rather than just talk the talk.  Taylor has decided to dive into the world of pundit blogging, rather than navigate four years of undergraduate work in the hopes that a small percentage of it might turn out to be relevant.  This sacrifice of an opportunity gives his old Coach pause, but ultimately Coach knows what it’s like to sacrifice something in order to maintain his liberal bona fides as well, and the revelation of what, precisely, that entailed is both disturbing to Taylor and understandable.  I wouldn’t dream of spoiling what that sacrifice turns out to have been, as I would definitely recommend you seeing this work if you have a chance to.

I do have a bit of a pet peeve when writers reference other works overmuch – in this case, there are a few too many references to the nerd canon – Star Wars and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are all mentioned when showcasing just one of them would have perhaps made the point that these two characters share a sensibility.

Other than the sci-fi reference quibble, which not everyone would have, the play is written with great confidence and humor, performed with sincerity and depth, and it reminded me that not everyone who grows up liberal in Texas or Oklahoma or Alabama ends up fleeing to the big city when they’re 20 – some simply choose to fight the good fight in the home town they otherwise love.

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