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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review- Luck (1st Irish)

The Fab Marquee review by Karen Tortora-Lee.

If you're lucky, when you get to 59E59 Theaters to see Luck you'll get to sit at one of the VIP tables up front - they've got the best view, the best table clothes and the best interaction with the star, or "hostess". But that's only if you're lucky. Then again, as Megan Riordan (playwright/performer of Luck) will tell you, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"... and she will further tell you that preparation most often meets opportunity in Las Vegas. At the Blackjack Table. When you're playing on a team.

Ms. Riordan goes by many aliases, one of which is Kim - your Las Vegas hostess for the evening - who gives you a show that is filled with everything that is the hallmark of Vegas: a little secrecy, a little slight of hand, a little razzle, a little dazzle, a little dancing, a little singing, some cards, some roulette, some dice and a whole lotta good luck rituals. As the evening unfolds she cleverly weaves storytelling with performance art and parlor games, using the dice or the cards to determine what she will do next.  (Example: Table 1 has a roulette wheel.  If the ball lands on 1 - 10 Kim will talk about "Can't" - if the ball lands on 11 - 20 she will talk about "Can").   The draw of a high card may tell her to give a definition, a low card will tell her to act out signals.

Ms. Riordan is the daughter of Max Rubin, one of the best blackjack players in Vegas and author of "Comp City" - a book about how to scam the casinos and get free stuff. After all, they've been taking our money for years, right? Everything Kim (and Megan for that matter) learned she learned from the best, and she imparts this knowledge to the audience in quick little gulps, like shots Jameson's Irish Whiskey thrown back, one after the other, glass by glass.  Flashy and glamourous Ms. Riordan is everything a child of Vegas should be - beautiful, tricky, funny, heartbreaking. She moves with lightening speed and shuffles through scenes the way a master card dealer will shuffle that deck; she is polite but empahtic... there's a rhythm to this night and your part in it depends on it going well. She's cleverly putting you on her team.

TEAM: Definition - In order to win in Blackjack - the only way - is to work in a team. And to do so successfully involves aliases, disguises, signals, codes, and escape plans. You have to be willing to take a hit for the team or the spotter can see that the card coming up will get the BP (Big Player or Big Personality) a win. You have to be willing to head to a casino straight from the airport, sit at a blackjack table with your father whom you haven't seen for a year, pretend you don't know him, and sit with him for 14 hours straigt playing cards and talking to him in code. You have to be ready for the fact that the day your dad walks you down the aisle, in fact... RIGHT before he walks you down the aisle, he offers to play you for the envelope your Uncle Jimmy just slipped you with a wink.

Ms. Riordan does a masterful job at portraying all the different angles of this life, illuminating a world that I'm sure few of us have seen, while at the same time giving us a purely stripped down one woman show about how much it can hurt to grow up in a family that is so significantly different than other families. Little tricks like using the security camera as a confessional to her dad is brilliant, the subtext being that this little eye sees all, this is the thing her father is most aware of, so by talking directly into it... maybe he will finally hear her?

Whether amped up or stripped down, Ms. Riordan is a compelling figure who found a way to tell her unique story in a fashion that does it justice. And with so many rolls of the dice and lucks of the draw that determine which scene goes next and which stories are told, the odd of it ever being the same show twice are 1:2 million and change. I'll take those odds.

Juicy MoMo Productions and 1st Irish Festival present
September 22-October 11, 2009
59E59 Street Theaters

Tickets $25. To purchase tickets and for more information visit

59E59 Street Theaters | 59 East 59th Street | Manhattan.

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