By Ron VandenBoom
Bright blue bowling shirts with the words "Life is Bowling" stenciled on the back might seem to be in strong conflict with a stage set composed of three graves. But all will be explained and the conflict resolved when the Havre High School Drama Department premieres "More Fun Than Bowling" a comedy by playwright Steven Dietz.
"Oh, put on the shirt," says Jake Tomlinson, as he tries to get his third wife, Lois, to put on a bowling shirt. "It's not going to kill you."
Well, Jake wasn't entirely right about the shirt. Lois is later killed when lightning strikes her newly won bowling trophy.
But that's no worse than what happened to his second wife, Loretta. She was killed when a rack of bowling balls collapsed on her.
Are you beginning to get the picture? Jake does not have the best of luck when it comes to his matrimonial affairs. His first wife, Maggie, left him and ran off with a man from the big city leaving Jake to raise their daughter, Molly, alone and run the local bowling alley The Dust Bowl.
The menacing character with a gun and a briefcase also adds a few comedic twists and turns.
"It's a very charismatic play," said Jay Pyette, director of the show. "But it's not one of those deep belly-laugh type shows. It has some serious tones to it."
Serious tones or not, the play presents a comedic challenge to the five cast members as they try and examine Jake's search for meaning and identity in a life that has little of either beyond that of a bowling ball.
Pyette said he has found Dietz to be a playwright who concentrates on the use of monologues that are interspersed with the story in order to convey the real meaning of the play.
The play is performed in a kind of theater in the round that has been specially constructed for this play. Only 200 seats will be available for each night of the production that is expected to run for seven nights.
The actors and actresses have had to learn to perform in a completely new arena, Pyette said, with the audience all around them.
Pyette said the students are really intrigued by the script, because it's got some real depth to it that they didn't see at first.
Another wrinkle the students are trying for the first time is a rotating cast.
Pyette explained that 10 students were cast for five roles. Each evening of the production two new students will step into one of the five roles.
"So you will never see the same cast in any two shows," Pyette said.
Tickets for the play are $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors. Because of the limited seating, tickets should be ordered in advance by calling 265-6731, ext. 319.
All tickets must be picked up by 7:15 p.m. the day of the show or they will be sold at the door, Pyette said.
The play premieres Thursday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Havre High School auditorium. Additional performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 11, and 12, with performances also scheduled for Monday and Tuesday evenings, May 14-15. The final performances will be Friday and Saturday, May 18-19.