REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play)

A world premiere.

By Gina Femia.

Directed by Rachel Edwards Harvith.

At the Pride Center – The Buena, Chicago.

Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction (counter-clockwise) around a track. Game play consists of a series of short match ups (jams) in which both teams designate a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer—in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously. Roller derby is played by approximately 1,250 amateur leagues worldwide, nearly half of them outside the United States. – Wikipedia.

Spirited roller derby pays a tribute to the dedicated female players.

I grew up watch both men’s and women’s roller derby on WGN and I must say that the female roller derby was more intense, more physical and with more fighting, in short, more fun to watch. It seems to still be played around the world.

Playwright Gina Femia’s  For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) focuses on the Brooklyn Scallywags, an amateur roller derby team peopled by a diverse cast of dedicated players whose passion for the game is immense. We meet the players who consist of a married player to a law student to a tattoo artist and other athletic women. This play features a fresh look at contemporary queer woman who are attracted to roller derby. Set in the locker room, For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) shows the manic energy and personal dynamics that forms a strange bond that creates a team.

This drama highlights the relationship of Lizzie (Erica Hernandez) and he lost partner, now the team’s coach Trica Rogers) and the relationship of rookie Joy Rider (Alex Dauphin) and her lover Michelle (Kenzie Seobert). We  see how relationships suffer due to the passionate love of playing roller derby by the team members.  For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) asks how much you’re willing to sacrifice or lose in order to follow your heart.

This world premiere could use a trim. At 2 hours, 30 minutes, it drags on at certain scenes but ultimately it delivers. Among the terrific cast, Alex Dauphin’s Joy, Erica Hernandez’s Lizzie and Kenzie Seibert’s  Michelle were particularly effective.  This is a promising new work that speaks to a little know sport. it is worth a look.


Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: March 23, 2017.

For more info checkout the For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) page at

At the Pride Center – The Buena, 4147 N.Broadway, Chicago, IL,  call 1-800-737-0984,, tickets $2- – $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, running time is 2 hours 3p minutes with intermission, through April 16, 2017.