The Bowling Show | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Bowling Show 

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The Bowling Show, Ouijar, at Timber Lanes Bowling Alley. This interactive show combines--to great effect--scripted comedy, improvisation, and a gimmick-filled game of audience-participatory bowling. Conceived and directed by Pamela Chermansky, it opens with a handful of loyal patrons pledging their support to Dottie "Mom" Keller: they'll participate in a tournament to save their favorite bowling alley from certain extinction. Then the Ouijar cast members perform a riotous, absurd musical history of bowling, tracing the sport's evolution from prehistoric times to the fast-paced game "people the world over enjoy today," after which they take their places at various lanes to lead their teams to victory.

In the ten madcap frames that follow, audience members are asked to bowl while seated or with the hand they don't usually use or while wearing an eye patch. Of course, bowling is ancillary to the rest of the show: if the game drags on a bit too long, it's redeemed by the cast's on-the-spot banter with the audience. Some of the pleasure of The Bowling Show comes from eavesdropping as the Catholic nun leads her team in a ridiculous pregame prayer and watching as Mom's two horny teenage sons moon over various audience members. Not that the show is lacking in the drama department: the tightly wound script features a tale of birth, death, and redemption. What more could you ask for--a wedding? Ah, but it's got that, too. --Nick Green


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