September 2, 2015

In sports dramas, the coach’s locker room talk matters more than the game. The winning shot in “Hoosiers” is a nice coda to the movie’s real climax: Gene Hackman’s speech to the team, which some professional sports arenas play during time outs to hype up the crowd. Such monologues are usually a mix of sales pitch and St. Crispin’s Day speech, but as a former high school point guard who has seen my share of pep talks, I find that the real kind is often more technical and mundane. In “Our Last Game,” Ed Schmidt, a playwright who is also the head coach of the varsity team at the Trinity School on the Upper West Side, nicely captures the language of the locker room, mixing bromides with a steady stream of jargon about matchups and defensive schemes. Basketball has its own language, and this solo play is dense with talk of diamond-and-one defense and clock management. If you pay close attention, a skeletal narrative emerges, as the coach delivers three different locker room talks from decades that go back in time. It’s a story of failed promise, disappointment and obsession.