Theater Review: Athena

Lea Sevola and Emma Giorgio. Photo by Jack Cooper
Lea Sevola and Emma Giorgio. Photo by Jack Cooper
Dennis "Mitch" Maley
SARASOTA — Gracie Gardner's Athena recently opened at Urbanite Theatre in downtown Sarasota.

I wasn't terribly excited at the prospect of a play about two high school girls competing in fencing, to be honest. However, given Urbanite's penchant for choosing out-of-the-ordinary fare, I presumed there was a good reason for the selection.

The play—which is much more about bonding, friendship, and the awkwardness of youth—is a compelling look at what it's like to be an American teen in the early 2020s. What Athena lacks in story, it makes up for with authentic characters and pitch-perfect dialog.

Lea Sevola shines as Athena, a fiercely competitive fencer who convinces Mary Wallace (Emma Giorgio) to be her training partner as they prepare for nationals. Giorgio endows Wallace with an understated persona that belies her own wildly competitive nature.

The two young ladies, brimming with all of the insecurities and overcompensations of early adulthood, spar not only on the mat but through the difficulties of lowering their guards and getting to know one another in a touching way that makes the tight 70-minute production an enjoyable evening of theater.

Directed by Summer Dawn Wallace, Athena runs through July 10. Visit the Urbanite website for ticket and schedule information.