She Is King: Billy Jean King in an Enjoyable Series of Instant Replays
Billie Jean King is definitely having a moment: She’s part of the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics, was recently parodied on Saturday Night Live, and now you can see her in the flesh (well, nearly) at the Incubator Arts Project’s Other Forces Festival. In She Is King, playwright Laryssa Husiak writes and performs the role of the tennis icon in a witty production directed by Katherine Brook.
The show consists mostly of television interviews, restaged word for word, in which Husiak — sporting King's trademark oversized spectacles — fields questions from admiring (and often clueless) journalists. A chorus of kids dressed in sneakers and sweats serves as stagehands, operating cameras that send live video to a bank of televisions upstage. We hear of King’s early passion for the sport, her battles against sexism in professional athletics, and her public coming out after a disastrous affair with her secretary.
Husiak’s performance is pitch-perfect, Brook’s staging is crisp, and the cast of preteens is adorable, if underused. In the end, though, the piece feels slight; Husiak appears more invested in the charms of verbatim performance than in the larger significance King’s story might hold. She Is King presents an enjoyable series of instant replays — but it makes you wish you could see the bigger game.
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