I don’t know much about basketball. The boss, Rob, who keeps the lights on here at Everything Theatre, challenged me to get some basketball terms into my review, so I’ll just have to admit that I will be a slam dunk failure and move on to telling you what I thought about the play.
The story of Another America is related to us by Dan (Marco Young), his younger brother Jared (Rosanna Suppa) and their friend Clint (Jacob Lovick). The trio set out to cycle across America from their home in California to Massachusetts, home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, to deliver a basketball as tribute. Along the way, they run into a wide range of characters between whom our young cast switch playing. Each person is asked to sign their basketball and add a witty (or pithy) message. These people are maybe not reaping the full promise of the American Dream; many are stuck in a rut, stuck in ‘another America’.
A gentle, easy chemistry between the three actors brings energy to the play throughout. They are onstage before the show begins, chatting with each other and with audience members. During the show they play 36 characters between them: the blurb describes it as “maximum chutzpah!” and I’ll go with that. They throw themselves dynamically into each character and each accent, adding fun through their seamless interactions. There were a couple of points where I simply could not tell if there was a flub and the cast were supporting (or gently mocking) each other, or if it was a little scripted moment: there was just a comfort and ease on display. There is a lot of fourth wall breaking, talking directly to the audience, including a very funny moment early on when they explain it’s a flashback but that the flashback flashes forwards whilst remaining a flashback.
I know that California and Massachusetts are a long way apart, and the cast do a good job of talking about the distance including, at times, the effort the cycling takes; but more than once I found myself wishing for a map! They talk about towns they visit (there are funny lines about many of these like Brazil, Indiana and Versailles, Kentucky), along with states they pass through or by; but those states are the flyover states and so it can be hard to picture both the journey and the progress our trio have made.
The thing I found missing was … basketball. If our three characters love basketball and their own team, Utah Jazz, so much, it’s puzzling that there seems to be so little mention of it. I would have thought that to think up this challenge – nevermind to take it on – these characters would be a little more vocal about their one true love. Sure, there is a small amount of discussion and some moments where they play basketball, but it’s never with each other, and with almost zero reminiscing about their basketball history or their team. It feels like an odd oversight.
Still, the show is undoubtedly funny and entertaining, with the enthusiasm of the cast keeping us in the zone. (There you go Rob, I got a buzzer beater in at the end!)
Written by Bill Rosenfield
Directed by Joseph Winters
Inspired by the documentary film True Fans by Dan Austin
Another America plays at Park90 until 30 April. Further information and bookings can be found here.