Second Stage Theatre continues its 2015 Uptown Series with the world premiere of "King Liz," a new work dealing with the challenges faced by a female sports agent. Contributing critic David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following review.
I am a dummy when it comes to sports. Everything I know about baseball, for example, comes from Richard Greenberg’s "Take Me Out." So high five to Fernanda Coppel’s "King Liz," the swift-moving and hard-dunking tale of a sports agent and her struggle to balance success and her soul.
This Second Stage Uptown production, slickly staged by Lisa Peterson and acted by an energetic ensemble, has an unmistakable MVP: the vibrant, charismatic Karen Pittman, who appeared both on Broadway and Off in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Disgraced." Pittman is a formidable stage creature: passionate, witty, glamorous, qualities she brings to bear on Liz Rico, the hard-charging agent at the center of the story.
Liz is tasked by her agency’s owner, Mr. Candy, to turn the young basketball prodigy Freddie Luna into an NBA star. Problem is, Freddie has done time in juvie for a violent crime he might have committed, and has a nasty temper. Liz and her put-upon assistant, Gabby, have to balance damage control while trying to sign Freddie up with the Knicks.
Russell G. Jones plays a cynical coach who carries a torch for Liz. She in turn maintains power and drive by shutting out the world. Fernanda Coppel’s drama has plenty of intrigue and foul-mouthed laughs, but it tries to keep too many balls spinning at once: sexism in corporate America; the plight of the professional woman; race and upward mobility; and the toxic relationship of sports and the media.
Even if "King Liz" seems overstuffed or schematic, every time Karen Pittman takes the court, the crowd goes wild.