REVIEW: Pull the Pin | Just Friends Theatre Company & The Blue Room Theatre

Pull the Pin
Reviewed by Cicely Binford

Tegan Mulvaney, Caitlin Beresford-Ord and Elisa Williams, Image by Sophie Minissale

Pull the Pin, a tenpin bowling comedy written by Rebecca Fingher and directed by Sian Murphy, explores the midlives of three women as they compete for a trophy and fend off the taunts of a mean teenaged competitor down at the bowling alley currently housed within The Blue Room Theatre.

These three ‘Old Hags’ (their team name) have a longstanding weekly date with a bottle of red wine, a basket of chicken nuggets, and each other. Ang (Tegan Mulvaney) has ambitions beyond the social league, and campaigns to convince her teammates Donna (Elisa Williams) and Jules (Caitlin Beresford-Ord) to enter the competitive league, thus earning them an engraved spot on the plaque of champions and a third of the prize money.

Donna and Jules remain reluctant to compete until Lake (Hannah Davidson), a young solo bowler who has her eye on the Old Hags’ claim to the best lane in the alley, fires one too many ageist insults at the ladies, igniting Donna’s competitive streak. As the competition heats up, so do the tensions between these three friends as they navigate personal crises that play out while Isaac Diamond, a bowling pin serving as Greek chorus of one, watches and plays on.

Isaac Diamond, Image by Sophie Minissale

Fingher’s take on the midlife crises of three Gen Xers is reverent and considered; she writes these women well without relying too heavily on cliche, thankfully. She, like her characters, has made a bold choice not to ‘stay in her lane’, and her efforts are largely successful. Fingher’s decision to train her sights on women of ‘a certain age’ feels like an affirmation of (some) women’s experiences that don’t often take centre stage, especially at the early career clearing house that is The Blue Room. Mulvaney, Beresford-Ord and Williams still seem far too young to bear the mantle of ‘Old Hags’, but perhaps I would feel differently if I were more Gen Z and less Gen X myself.

Hannah Davidson and Isaac Diamond, Image by Sophie Minissale

The dynamic between the performers is fruitful, with Mulvaney (the youngest of the trio) acting as the lead catalyst and bridge between young Lake and her Hag sisters. Davidson’s Lake really gets under your skin in the most peevish way, but her turn as a bowling ball is delightful. Beresford-Ord is the glue that holds everything together, caring and forgiving, loyal and protective. The delicious tension between her character and Diamond as the one pin she can never knock down adds an extra element of silly (but sweet) fun to the show. Although the sexual metaphors associated with her character’s story feel a bit forced in some spots, Diamond and Beresford-Ord charm their way through them together.

Caitlin Beresford-Ord and Isaac Diamond, Image by Sophie Minissale

The set, a small-scale, traverse representation of a bowling lane by William Gammel, functions and looks great in the theatre space, allowing the actors to bowl real balls into the backstage area. Murphy’s direction ensures that we don’t get neckaches watching a constant tennis match between the performers, and the show maintains a steady pace which allows the performers natural room to breathe.

Pull the Pin is a crowd-pleaser that will strike a chord with many Old Hags, Gen-whatevers, and amateur-league underdogs who’ve got balls to spare.

Pull the Pin runs until 2 July at The Blue Room Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit the Blue Room website here.