Regional Reviews: New Jersey
Quirky More Fun than Bowling at 12 Miles West
Also see Bob's review of The Brother/Sister Plays Part 1: In the Red and Brown Water
It is at the point that Jake falls asleep and begins to dream of his life with Loretta and Lois that More Fun than Bowling switches gears from absurdist comedy to fanciful, lightly philosophical, sage romantic comedy. It is in this mode that director John Pietrowski and his deft cast deliver a warmly entertaining More Fun than Bowling. Both the plot and the characters remain quirky throughout, but comedic quirkiness is quite different from absurdum.
Dietz' humorous and insightful dialogue provides considerable pleasure. Jake is teaching Lois how to bowl when the two fall into an embrace and kiss. Molly enters and observes, "Good technique, wrong sport." Noting that, at his graduation party, half of the boys came dressed as Washington and half came dressed as Lincoln , Lenny continues, "Vo-Tech wasn't very deep in history. One came dressed as F.D.R. because he didn't want to have to dance." Molly reads from a letter sent to her by her mother, "Fun is enough, everything else is theory. He (Jake) made everything fun. I thought life should be more, but I never found anything to make me as happy ... Don't spend your whole life in Turtle Rapids; and don't be afraid to go home, and when the fun stops, get off the train."
As interpreted by Lenny Bart, Jake is a bit off-center in a pleasantly goofy sort of way. Because he never overplays Jake's eccentricities, Bart can segue into Jake's anguish without violating his established persona. Laura Ekstrand is a clear-eyed, charming and restrained Loretta. Tricia Burr brings a feisty, comic zest to the athletic Lois. There is a centered stillness in Jenelle Sosa's Molly which marks her as a young girl with an old soul. Director John Pietrowski has maintained a swift space and elicited fine performances from all hands.
Within its thin overlay of absurdum, More Fun than Bowling is a zany romantic comedy that audiences will be glad has come their way.
More Fun than Bowling by Steven Dietz continues performances (Thursday-Saturday 8 pm/ Sunday 3 PM) through June 7, 2009 at the 12 Miles West Theatre in residence at Playwrights Theatre, 33 Green Village Road, Madison, NJ 07940. Box Office: 973-259-9187; online: www.12MilesWest.org.
More Fun Than Bowling by Steven Dietz, directed by John Pietrowski