We’re kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

The Ball of Justice, Strawdog Theatre Company. Even those viewers who didn’t see last year’s Return to the Howard Bowl should quickly catch on to this sequel. Among the characters in this live-action comic book are Def D and AJ Dove–collectively called Kingpinz, the rappin’ bowlers. Le B Smoov and Smootie Pac are their babe-a-licious girlfriends, and Bagman and Guttapunk the video-gaming Wizzaratz. Dolemyte is the keeper of the Howard Bowl, and Superfly of the Rainbo roller rink. Dan Stuckie is the Kiss-costumed enemy who, along with a pack of superhero wannabes gone bad calling themselves the Joliet Justice League, schemes to destroy bowling by usurping the magical (Bowling) Ball of Justice, leaving Rogers Park to slow decline under roller-derby rule.

The text is heightened teenage repartee, providing the recitative for a score of hip-hop music beefed up by live instrumentalists, authored by Adam Joyce and Doug Nagel, who also play the Kingpinz. Czarina Mirani’s intricate dances adequately conjure visions of MTV, but Matt Walley’s stunt-skating choreography for the inevitable big showdown suffers in the cramped quarters of the Strawdog studio.

All told, this is good, silly, high-energy juvenile fun. And with a curtain time of 11:30 PM, it makes a great finish to an evening of summer partying.

–Mary Shen Barnidge