(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
The prospect of seeing a play about roller derby in Brooklyn in the 1950s did not fill me with eager anticipation, so I am happy to report that Rolin Jones's comedy at Atlantic Stage 2 turned out to be a delight. Patch Darragh is superb as Jack Lovington, a working stiff from Bushwick, raised in a Catholic orphanage, who follows his dream to join the roller derby despite the disapproval of his long-time fiancee. Jeanine Serraleles is a hoot as a bipolar derby player and Billy Eugene Jones is amusing as the team manager. The rest of the cast (Todd Weeks, Greg Stuhr, Keira Naughton, Kate Rigg, Dan Domingues, Christopher Jackson) excel at multiple roles including a colorful group of roller derby players and St. Barbara's two priests, one Polish and the other Hispanic, as the parish struggles to adapt to population change. Much of the fun comes from the play's inventive staging. Often it suggests a living cartoon, complete with characters played by cardboard cutouts. Director Jackson Gay deserves a lot of credit, as do movement consultant Monica Bill Barnes, violence consultant (is that the new euphemism for fight master?) J. David Brimmer, set designer Wilson Chin and costume designer Jessica Ford. A few of the scenes, particularly one on the Coney Island Cyclone, drag on a bit too long, but that did not diminish my enjoyment. Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.