Review | ‘The Wrestling Season’ at the Coterie

By ROBERT TRUSSELL
The Kansas City Star

The Coterie Theatre and the UMKC Theatre Department have joined forces to produce a remarkably well-acted revival of “The Wrestling Season,” a taut one-act play by Laurie Brooks about intense social pressures and sexual identity among a group of teens.

The Coterie commissioned this piece, which it first staged in 2000. It was a unique approach to storytelling then and it still is.

From left, Rufus Burns, Sam Cordes, Tosin Morohunfola and Francisco Villegas (Coterie Theatre)

This production, directed by Leigh Miller, unfolds with palpable tension. In one sense the show plays like a mystery in which layers of misconceptions are peeled away only to come to an elliptical conclusion that asks theatergoers to decide what may or may not be true. But it also recalls plays from another era that focused on social injustice and asked the audience to do something about it.

This is a fine cast and includes five third-year students in UMKC’s graduate actor training program. Miller’s direction is crisp and specific. The central relationships become fairly complex, but the actors maintain clarity throughout.

Central to the action is the friendship between Matt (Tosin Morohunfola) and Luke (Sam Cordes), two members of the high-school wrestling team and friends since childhood.

A couple of rumor-mongering teammates, Willy and Jolt (Francisco Villegas and Rufus Burns), begin implying that Matt and Luke are gay – although their own friendship suggests that perhaps Willy and Jolt protest too much – and by so doing amp up the homophobic panic and trigger bad choices all around. Read the rest at kansascity.com.

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