The History of Bowling Theater Review - Life is Full of Gutter Balls

Cast of "The History of Bowling"

A doctor’s note is often seen as the golden ticket in the real world where adult life is riddled with things we all just don’t want to do. Go to work, go to jury duty… But once you see Blue Zone Productions production of “The History of Bowling”, I guarantee you’ll never view doctor’s a note in the same again.

The History of Bowling chronicles the misadventures of Lou (Tara Samuel), a twenty-two year old college senior who has procured such a doctor’s excuse to get out her of physical education credit, a class she has been avoiding her entire college career until now. Her incapacitating ailment that prevents her from participating in sports or any other form of vigorous activity: Epilepsy. Unfortunately for Lou, PE Instructor Barnes has a decisive way of dealing with such excuser-bearers: a research paper and presentation on the sport of your choice, to be worked on with a partner. Lou’s partner is 33-year old quadriplegic freshman Chuck (Danny Murphy). 

At first Lou is horrified at her partner while Chuck takes Lou for a hemophiliac. But Chuck is quite used to Barnes’ wicked methods and soon persuades Lou to his way of thinking, that this assignment can very well be a perfect opportunity to rub Barnes’ nose in his attempt to put the “cripples” out of sight and out of mind. Their term paper The history of bowling, will regale the escapades of Chuck’s youth spend in “the cripple bowlers league”, because anyone can bowl.

Danny Murphy & Tara Samuel in "The History of Bowling"

The duo become fast friends and lovers soon after. Chuck comes to relish in Lou’s youth and wit while Lou find Chuck worldly and refreshingly irreverent. The relationship flourishes and flounders as they spar with each other over their own personal demons. He confronts her over her feelings of embarrassment and shame at publicly having seizures. She intimidated him with talk of boxcar hopping in Indiana, because for all Chuck’s talk, emotionally, he still keeps himself hidden away in his mother’s attic.

Chuck’s roommate is the handsome, deaf/blind Ladies’ Man Cornelius (Lynn Manning) who can play poker like no one’s business. The cast is rounded out by four lovely Cheerleader stagehands.

Friends & Lovers

The History of Bowling is an important play because it challenges the dehumanization of people with disabilities and it makes it's point by using actors who themselves are disable. Imagine the novel concept of using a blind performer to play a blind character. Unfortuately the practice is a rarity which hopefully will begin to change with the small steps from productions like this one by Blue Zone Production that features disabled performers. This cast demonstrates that they are a more than able ensemble of actors. Murphy and Samuel give solid performances as an odd couple that belongs together, almost. Manning's comic timing is spot on. Mike Ervin's fine script pulls no punchs in the irony, self-deprication and honesty of his characters.

But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of this play is that, while the thrust of the play is social and personal acceptance of people with disabilities, at its core, it’s a very traditional May-December romance that springs up between two very different people; a rocky passionate romance between two very whole people who laugh, love and want to be loved. Just you’re basic girl meets boy story; the boy just happens to be in a wheelchair.

The History of Bowling is currently running thru April 27th @

NoHo Arts Center
11136 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Fridays & Saturdays @8pm
Sundays @ 3pm

Tickets: 818-508-7101 ext. 211

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