10 Pin Alley
by Gene Kato
11 Pins, 1 Ball, LET THE WAR BEGIN! On a dark bowling alley lane, 10 terrified bowling pins stand, anxiously anticipating an attack from their unseen enemy. As the lights come up, the pins argue, scream, and dance their way through ten frames of terror. It’s only upon the appearance of a strange Red Pin (with a misguided superhero complex) do they feel the tables start to turn – empowering them to do everything they can to thwart the success of their dreaded archenemy, Black Balls.
Cast Size: Flexible
Running Time: 1 hr 10 Minutes
Royalty: $35 per performance
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I assigned this play in a writing class in a liberal arts college. And OH BOY the conversations it started, from the mechanics of bowling, to dramatic structure, to Brechtian Theatre, to Theatre of the Absurd, to performances of identity, to the ways in which we write for/about other identities and cultures (should we? should we not? why? why not? what are the traps?); I will say (and I don’t want to hurt Mr. Kato’s feelings) the folks who hated this play truly HATED this play; the folks who loved this play LOVED it and defended it as a break from the daily intellectual battlefield. I have never seen a group of people react as strongly to any play that we had assigned (read or seen), and for that alone, I say you absolutely should read this play. It’s…it’s just wild and insane and reminds us that theatre should be challenging, should entertain, and should elicit strong reactions that shake us out of passive spectatorship.
A no-holds-barred sure-fire hit for any company looking to include a decidedly comedic piece to their season. Fast-paced, tight, and laugh out loud funny with crisp dialogue and endless one-liners. And a fantastic ensemble piece for a group of actors who enjoy physical comedy. Kato gives us an inside look at a world in which ten bowling pins navigate life and relationships while being repeatedly tormented by a bowling ball. Absolutely hysterical. Highly recommend.
We’re told that baseball is a metaphor for life. But for someone who’s done a lot of bowling, I think Gene Kato’s comical/farcical comes a lot closer to hitting it right in the pocket. This ensemble cast of all types (and tropes) has all the right moves for modern life with its ups and downs and unexpected hits from every angle. The jokes, puns, one-liners blend seamlessly with wry and witty observations about life in and out of the alley, and even if you wind up in the gutter, there’s still hope. This one scores 300.