March 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Playwright A.R. Gurney (Love Letters) renders a slight, almost journalistic account of William Tilden, the glamorous father of U.S. tennis who wound up jailed for pedophilia. Fortunately, John Michael Higgins (Best in Show) plays Tilden superbly, his jauntiness not quite masking the darkness and sadness within; given the harem of ball boys, the story amounts to its own kind of Greek tragedy. Tilden was a spectacular winner (seven U.S. singles titles in the 1920s), and also fancied himself a pure sportsman. ”[To] lose cheerfully and generously, that’s the first commandment,” he says. It’s a creed he couldn’t quite follow. (TC)

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