Vince Lombardi was considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history. He took the Green Bay Packers from a 1-10-1 record to 7-5 in his first year and then went on to become one of the most winning coaches ever.
Eric Simonson’s play, based on the book by David Maraniss, translates into an incomplete 90-minute, one-act play, filled with aphorisms and platitudes, or “Lombardi-isms” that worked better in the heat of battle than on a stage.
Football fans, especially those who remember the Lombardi era, and the 1965 setting of the play, will enjoy the intimate look at the gruff, determined coach.
Robert Ierardi does a decent job in portraying the larger-than-life man, both with his players and with his long-suffering wife, Marie, who understands her place in line…behind football.
Ocean State’s managing producer Joel Kipper puts on his acting suit, portraying Look Magazine reporter Michael, who tries to get at the heart of the man. Unfortunately, he and author Maraniss never do, as the play lacks focus. The play ends up being as much about the reporter and his decision to write about Lombardi as it is about Lombardi.
Jennifer Byrne gives a sensitive portrayal as Marie, a woman who has sacrificed her life for her husband to the point of moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Todd Berkich as the legendary Paul Hornung, Thomas Schario as Jim Taylor and Barthelemy Atsin as Dave Robinson are good in secondary roles.
“Lombardi” is at Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre Company through Nov. 24. Tickets are $34-$49. Call 921-6800 for reservations.