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THE BOWLING PLAY Shea's Smith Theatre/Second Generation Theatre
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Feb 26, 2024, 19:25
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Through March 10
“THE BOWLING PLAY” Shea’s Smith Theatre/Second Generation Theatre

Just after seeing Kelly Copps’ “The Bowling Play,” I went by a once-prominent and crowded bowling alley, now covered with signs for potential future development.
Not as a bowling alley.
Around the area, you see few operating lanes, surviving social and industrial change.
Just for the record, this play isn’t based on Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone,” but on the bowling culture which once echoed across vast areas filled with strange shoes, matching shirts and the noise of balls hitting those wooden pins.
Copps’ play is funny, well-acted and acerbic about the surviving bowling culture in a cyber age.
It’s absolutely worth seeing.
The show revolves around bowler Pete (Connor Graham) who is looking for a social life outside of the four nights a week he bowls with the other three members of his team.
He’s divorced and lonely and signs up for a dating app and arranges to meet someone from the app at the alley, since his teammates aren’t supposed to be there.
A woman shows up and Pete assumes it’s The Girl (Alexandria Watts).
Then his teammates show up and make his life and his date miserable.
Did you know bowling porn is a thing?
Why Pete continues to hang out with Buster (Jacob Albarella), CJ (Nick Lama) and, particularly, Ronnie (Adam Yellen) is beyond me, maybe the quest to fill the hole in his life from his divorce.
That’s along with the alley workers, Willie, Roger and Artie (all Rick Lattimer) who fulfill all of those jokes about bowlers.
Gradually, Pete and The Girl realize what happened and they actually make friends and she gives him her phone number.
In the middle of all this funny and awful behavior, The Date (Sofia Matlasz) shows up in a wildly inappropriate outfit for a bowling alley.
Those high-heeled boots wouldn’t allow her to hit a 7-10 split.
It revives the bowling porn discussion.
It’s hard to tell who came up with the set material, from the beer signs to the alley return to team shirts, although it all contributes to the ambiance and the worth of the show.
Director Amy Jakiel does a strong job with the script and has a strong cast to make it work, even though some members of the bowling team might get punched out in the glory days of local leagues, particularly after a few rounds from the bar.
My candidate would be Ronnie.
Watts rises above much of the mayhem.
I don’t know if Copps wants to take her script out to other theaters in cities with bowling traditions but it could be successful if she does.
The local scriptwriting community is starting to get on stage after the long swoon of the Pandemic and it will be good to see more locally-sourced materials.
Meanwhile, contribute to bowling lore by seeing “The Bowling Play.”

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