Reviewed By Cody Fullbrook Put on your shoes and pick a lane because Just Friends Theatre Company has rolled Pull The Pin down to The Blue Room Theatre. Three ladies are reaching a decade of their social bowling hobby but decide to take their first steps into the competitive league. Will they win the coveted trophy, or will they understand that the real prize was the friends they made along the way?
The set is literally (almost literally) an actual bowling alley, complete with a lane, allowing real bowling balls to be rolled along the floor and offstage. There’s displayed trophies, which could have easily been referenced for the sake of the budget, but includes a plaque and golden pins screwed into the wall.
With the stage segmented into lane, pinsetter, and seats, all actors move naturally amongst their set, though, given that the seating is placed on opposite ends of the lengthy stage, keeping track of the blocking often felt like watching tennis rather than bowling. Jules, Ange, and Donna, played by Caitlin Beresford-Ord, Tegan Mulvany, and Elisa Williams respectively, dominate each scene with an effortless grace, pacing their dialogue while remaining energized. Their dialogue is deceptively blunt and simple, with characters often stating what they want out loud, but these three have such a natural rapport that you accept every moment, even when Ange pleads like a child or when Donna blurts out a confession at the tail end of an argument.
Hannah Davidson was a clear audience favourite as Lake, their abrasive antagonist, with a purposeful and eclectic cadence to her delivery that made her grandiose taunts both obnoxious and believable.
Acting as narrator and musical accompaniment, we have a sentient, guitar playing bowling pin, joyfully played by Isaac Diamond. The narration wanes in the later half of the show, exposing it as an efficient, if not outright lazy, method of dumping character exposition, but the live strumming adds appreciated gravitas to scenes, such as one of many confrontations with Lake which takes on the feel of a western showdown.
Appropriately, and expected, Pull The Pin isn’t really about bowling, but three ladies maintaining their friendship and contemplating their place in the world. In fact, even though each woman is bowling in the same place with the same goal, their personal reasons to “win” are periodically revealed throughout the show. Whether it’s Ange’s feud with Lake, Donna’s boring family life, or Jules’ battle with competence, these gripes give this delightful bowling team much appreciated depth, resulting in an engaging climax with a surprisingly serene ending, given the show’s suggestively explosive title.
Pull The Pin is a fun show with a lot of heart, and a great feel-good production for the middle of a night out. Indeed, it is much like shooting a spare in bowling. Not perfect, but close enough for most. If only they parodied the ancient 3D animated videos that play on the tv’s at every bowling alley. Such a shame.