BWW Reviews: JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS Scores Big at Studio Theatre

BWW Reviews: JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS Scores Big at Studio Theatre

Every classroom I studied in in grade school had that poster that reads, "There is No 'I' in Team". We've always been reminded of how much and how well we should work in groups to achieve goals, build character and build family. And we keep doing it. Here in DC, there are team sports everywhere, from bocce ball tournaments to Ultimate Frisbee. There are winners, and there are plenty of "I'm just in it for the drinks afterwards" players as well.

Studio Theatre's latest production JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS explores the character and familial dynamics of one such thrown together team. Set entirely in a dingy locker room in Hull, a small fishing town in England, the play follows struggling LGBT intramural soccer team Barely Athletic, who are anything but the usual people you'd find in a winning or even slightly passable group. One needs people skills, another won't take off his knit hat despite being made fun of constantly. Two are flirting, and the fifth needs to get out more. What could possibly go wrong?

Playwright TOM WELLS has penned a script that is heartfelt, well balanced and does not try too hard. In a sea of new works that get overly wordy, melodramatic and/or not properly developed, this one is a winner. Wells's characters are all people or types that we have met, and there's something in each of them that connects with audience members. The heartstring-tugging moments are balanced with hilarious jokes, quips and physical comedy to round the show out and make it believable, and something you want to see repeatedly.

Director MATT TORNEY also clearly wants his actors to explore and have fun. The staging allows them to bound around the stage but also do regular activities which don't draw attention when they shouldn't. Characters sit with their backs to the audience when needed, creating more of a 360 effect. While the script follows the pattern of the season, Torney gives transitions that work well with the ongoing mood and heighten the energy of the audience.

As Viv, the self-appointed head coach and purchaser of trophies, KIMBERLY GILBERT triumphs. She is constantly active and engaged on stage, allows her character to transform, and gives a no apologies performance of a complicated woman trying to do it all. MICHAEL GLENN creates a lovable Joe, the "token straight" team member, and makes his level attitude something that has immense depth to it. While he is the fall guy for a lot of jokes, Joe at his heart is the best of them all.

JONATHAN JUDGE-RUSSO steals scenes as the ridiculous street musician Beardy. He jumps, thrusts and gives immensely unsubtle expressions that will send you into fits of laughter, with a confident performance that wins. LIAM FORDE is heartbreakingly likable as fitfully nervous Luke, making you adore him from the start. ZDENKO MARTIN as Danny is an evolving mix of withdrawn and intensely self-aware, playing off the louder members of the team with a steady presence.

With JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS, Studio Theatre has a hilarious, excellent study of what happens when you stick people together and hope for a positive outcome despite all the odds against you. It gives romance, wit and empahy in a production that overall is undoubtedly a winning goal for all involved. See it, and enjoy.

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS plays at Studio Theatre now through June 21st. The show runs without an intermission, and has a runtime of about an hour and forty minutes. For more information, visit the production page.

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From This Author Heather Nadolny

Heather Nadolny is a DC-based singer, actress, writer, and storyteller. A Memphis native and Chicago transplant, she is a regular performer and guest co-host at (read more...)

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