A bowling alley is an unlikely setting for a play as funny as The Closing of a Small and Insignificant Bowling Alley. However, within minutes, the audience is laughing at the well-timed jokes and general performance of the actors on stage.
Most of the plays put on during Bedfest have been pieced together within a week or two, leaving no time for forgotten lines or missing rehearsals. The little time of 2½ weeks that the play’s production company, The Counterminers, have had to get the performance ready does not affect its excellence.
The script writer Ned Dunne cleverly parodies features of plays such as breaking the fourth wall and using lighting for dramatic effect. This is particularly noteworthy when Charlie (Jamie Cushing) is speaking to the audience and is asked who he is talking to. This is very clever and really involves the audience in the play.
The play is innovative in its form. For example, a member of the audience participates in the show, which is completely unexpected. It makes the play feel more inclusive, fun and completely original.
In terms of the acting, all the cast performs to an extremely high standard. The lead character Sam (Hollie Avery), the manager of the bowling alley, tests the audience’s emotions. At first, Sam seems rather buffoonish, but develops into someone with big dreams which she is struggling to turn into reality. This is truly heart-breaking.
Her drunkard mother, Janet (Emer Williams) commands the stage, swinging one too many cider bottles around while she slurs her drunken rants. In fact, Williams acts so well, it is easy to forget this is a performance.
Jamie (Lewis Forman), another employee at the bowling alley, brings the audience to laughter as soon as he sets foot onto the stage. The timing of his jokes is spot-on and the amendments made to Dunne’s original script certainly pay off. At times, a few jokes fall flat, but instead of getting flustered, the cast seamlessly transitions into the next phase of the play without a moment’s hesitation.
Sally (Zöe Robertson), the owner of the bowling alley, certainly makes an entrance. Sally is much more subtle and reserved than the other characters, whose personalities are more exaggerated at times. Robertson’s acting often feels real and relatable, with a breath-taking natural quality.
Jess (Leonie Findlay) is a bundle of joy, so much so that you cannot help but overlook the fact that she goes to prison for killing a cat. She really is that charming and loveable! It is difficult not to smile every time she comes onto the stage ready to deliver her lines, as something hilarious is guaranteed to follow.
Last, but definitely not least, is Rick (Eduardo Fahey), the London businessman who buys the bowling alley from Sally. Fahey certainly knows how to make an entrance! The swish of his cape, almost vampire-like costume and sly facial expressions are enough to make the audience burst into fits of laughter. It is certainly a performance not many would forget.
In terms of chemistry, this cast has it all. They are a very tight-knit group who have chosen to work together, which certainly pays off. The play is unlike others as it makes the mundane interesting. Watching this play is a truly worthwhile way to spend a Wednesday evening.
Image: Chloe Hendry