Katie Blackerby, Tina Jo Wallace, Brenda Sparks, Colette Mattingly (back) Georgette Kleier, Kiersten Vorheis, Heather Paige Folsom, & Tasha Hatchett (front) in The Bunco Squad. Photo: DDP

The Bunco Squad

Written and directed by Jim Hesselman

A review by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.

For those uninitiated, Bunco is a dice game for eight players, but really, it’s an excuse for friends to gather and gossip. That was my experience when I used to be part of a Bunco group years ago, when friends gathered to drink and gossip, and possibly get some game time.

That is the spirit of a new original play premiering at the Derby Dinner Playhouse. Eight female friends gather once a month to play the game, and we sit in on two of the monthly gatherings as the ladies bicker, gossip, play the game, and gossip some more while fighting over recipes and men. All of this with the help of their signature cocktail, or as they call it, “Joy Juice”.

The dialogue is crisp and funny, though I did notice a few jokes were lifted from other plays and TV shows, and the whole thing is a bit reminiscent of Steel Magnolias, without the tragedy.

The performances are strong, with some standout work by actors Katie Blackerby and Heather Paige Fulsom.

Ron Riall’s set is particularly well done, creating the living rooms of two different homes and keeping both cozy. It’s all nicely lit by Alexa Holloway’s lighting design and punctuated with some great sound from Michael Delaney.

The play flows nicely under Jim Hesselman’s direction, as he stages his script and keeps things moving. I did notice some occasional odd blocking choices, but overall it worked.

If you’ve ever been part of a Bunco group, you’ll probably enjoy this more than those who are uninitiated. However, it’s still a fun and breezy comedy that should satisfy Derby Dinner’s core audience. 

But always remember, what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco!

Featuring Katie Blackerby, Heather Paige Folsom, Tasha Hatchett, Georgette Kleier, Colette Mattingly, Brenda Sparks, Kiersten Vorheis, & Tina Jo Wallace.

The Bunco Squad

January 10 – February 18, 2024

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, Indiana 47129

Craig Nolan Highley has been active in local theatre as an actor, director and producer for more than 14 years. In June 2019 he launched a new company with Jeremy Guiterrez, Theatre Reprise. He has worked with Bunbury Theater, Clarksville Little Theatre, Finnigan Productions, Louisville Repertory Company, Savage Rose Classical Theatre Co., and WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre among others. He has been a member of the Wayward Actors Company since 2006. Craig’s reviews have also appeared in TheatreLouisville and Louisville Mojo.