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The Pickleball Wars

Kathy McCaf ferty and Tatiana Chavez as K.A. Bot toms and Tine Mae Perks. Photo: Michael & Suz Karchmer

Review by Lee Roscoe

Pickleball has been causing controversy across the U.S. with its sounds of ping-pong on steroids. Kevin Rice’s world premiere The Pickleball Wars, at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT), is a mad romp that asks the question, which side are you on? Not just as far as the game itself goes, but in terms of what it represents as a kind of metaphor for aligning with the cause of global justice, or not.

Fred Fallon, played with just the right amount of lovable naivete and outrage by Robin Bloodworth, is writing a novel which may end in Kazakhstan, where he spent time in the Peace Corps. He’s a retired history teacher with an enlarged prostate which is big “not in the right places,” who DJs at community radio station MOR.

He’s been writing the novel for 26 years, while his wife Sue (played with stellar coolth by Kelly Christopher) is a songwriter whose band is about to cover songs by artists like Fleetwood Mac to make ends meet. Or she may write a song for the TV show America’s Got Jesus—“Sweet Jesus don’t go bleeding out to please us.”

Enter the neighbors, Tina Mae Perks (Tatiana Chavez), and K.A. It’s not K, it’s not OK, it’s not Kathy Ann, but K!A! Bottoms (Kathy McCafferty), pickleball fanatics who challenge the audience to play the game, stay hydrated, learn the “dink” and “lob,” stretch and paddle, but do not ever play it like tennis because “Tennis is the enemy!” Chavez and McCafferty perform with terrific comic physicality, and make their moves to hilariously dramatic pieces of music like Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring,” as they torment writer Fred with the noise of the balls.

Pickleball is a religion to the two lovers. “Pickleball is truth,” they proclaim. Pickleball will cleanse you of your mistakes and forgive you. Pickleball is a better kind of torture than waterboarding. Tina and K.A. put Fred into a pickle: he must choose for them or against them, for the neighbors are not what they seem to be. They are on to “Free Fallin Freddy” (Fred’s on-air name accompanied by Tom Petty theme music). And while Matty, the station manager, played with curmudgeonly grace by Dennis Cunningham, pushes Fred to fundraise, strange things are happening at the station beyond Fred’s acerbic on-air comments on Ukraine, and the human race in general.

With music from the late 60s, some great puns, (how can you miss with the “Stans?”) and some very funny comments about the Outer Cape’s residents, the play has a twist, filled with the craziness of our current political and pop culture’s paranoia. It’s a wild treat, beautifully directed by Daisy Walker. Don’t miss it.

The Pickleball Wars is performed Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m. at WHAT Julie Harris Stage, 2357 Rte. 6, Wellfleet, through September 9. For tickets ($40/discounts for students & seniors) and information call 508.349.9428 or visit

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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