Review | ‘Pull The Pin’ rolls a perfect game with comedy and heart

Pull The Pin | The Blue Room | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

While I know very little about sport at all, I do love a good sports team narrative.

The Wolves presented at The Blue Room by Red Ryder Productions back in 2019? Loved it. Bend It Like Beckham? Yes, also obviously should have been a lesbian love story. The early 2000’s Australian film Crackerjack featuring Judith Lucy in a fetching white dress? I am not ashamed to say I watched it from the comfort of my mum’s couch just last week.

All of this is to say that I was primed to enjoy the closing night of Pull The Pin at The Blue Room on Saturday.

Presented by Just Friends Theatre Company, Pull the Pin is an original play by local playwright Rebecca Fingher. Pull the Pin is the story of a social ten pin bowling team The Old Hags gone pro on the insistence of Donna (Elisa Williams).

While her teammates Ang (Tegan Mulvaney) and Jules (Caitlin Beresford-Ord) are content to stay in their metaphorical lane, Donna is experiencing an existential crisis that only intensifies when she makes an ill-judged bet with the villainous Lake Butts (Hannah Davidson) over use of the bowling lane the Hags have had baggsed for the last decade.

The pressure puts the Hags friendship at risk, but also introduces the potential for a new teammate in the lonely Butts. Narrated by (what else) an anthropomorphised bowling pin (David Stewart, replacing Isaac Diamond) Pull the Pin is a moving and funny tale of friendship which asks the question – what will be my legacy?

The pin-as-narrator sets up a world where it is perfectly acceptable – and deeply hilarious – for a stuffed pig to speak and a bowling ball come to life (the latter also played by a joyful Davidson). Davidson revels in the opportunity to play with both surrealist and melodramatic humour. She pushes the latter in her role as the misunderstood Lake, delivering insults to the Hags with relish and a toss of her long braids, while always taking the audience with her.

Stewart similarly embraces his last minute role as the only pin Jules has never knocked down. He and Beresford-Ord have a delicious tension as they both desperately want – and at the same time are ambiguous towards – Jules’ first strike.

Fingher is a generous writer, doling out both comedic one liners and emotional monologues to a cast that is more than capable of delivering. The millennial/boomer (sorry — Gen X) barbs soften into a promise of intergenerational friendship, while the emotional turmoil of the team never verges into the saccharine – surely the influence of director Sian Murphy.

I left the theatre still not entirely sure about the rules of ten pin bowling, but certain that I wanted more from everyone involved in this production.

Pull The Pin has now ended its season. You can follow Just Friends Theatre Company on Facebook and catch some more fabulous shows at The Blue Room.

Bec Bowman

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