Megan Riordan’s autobiographical one-woman show Luck is us a dizzying glimpse of the life of a professional blackjack player’s daughter. Using nicknames, code words, and complex mathematics, along with the occasionally sobering monologue, Riordan gives the audience the one thing that Vegas can’t: a sure thing.
Reviewed by Amanda Halkiotis
As the daughter of a professional gambler and raised in Las Vegas, Megan Riordan learned the “family business” as soon as she turned twenty-one. For her one-woman show Luck, Riordan has transformed a small black box studio into a casino-style cocktail lounge: dimly-lit, a black and red color scheme, with the small stage covered in green felt and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. From the lighting to the tablecloths and chairs to her own sleek black halter dress with belted red satin around the waist, Riordan has created a surreal yet enticing experience, almost as if walking into an exclusive club only to find a carnival taking place.
The tiny, square tables with battery-operated square candles and cocktail menus add to the décor concept, as does the background music of old jazz and cabaret tunes (including Sinatra’s Luck Be a Lady). Riordan keeps up the carnival vibe upon taking the stage, beginning her play by shifting into game show mode. She distributes to the front row a hand of cards, for example, or two die, and takes her cue for the next scene based on these outcomes. A screen hanging over stage left dictates rules, so that Riordan may tell a story based on a dice roll or take a timed vocabulary quiz on casino lingo if a flipped quarter comes out heads.
In this sense, Luck lives up to its name, relying on chance to determine the show. It works, too: even Riordan’s momentary hesitations suit her role. With those wide doe eyes made even more effective with a thin layer of liner, pale skin and pouty red lips, Riordan is an alluring hostess, armed with a limitless supply of personal anecdotes, punch lines, and grins and winks that keep the show in high gear.
Not that she can’t slow down or drop that more-than-capable poker face to talk about her father. The smoke and mirrors subside as she divulges personal secrets on how she learned to gamble, as well as her reluctant real-life role as the all-too-loyal daddy’s girl desperate for approval and attention at any cost. In this capacity, the audience learns the burden that comes with always betting and relying on luck, and the cursed existence of fate without free will.
Directed by Dodd Loomis, who honors the vulnerable, volatile content of the show, Riordan shines throughout with all the anticipation and energy of a Vegas floor show. Whether winning the crowd over with a live raffle or reducing the same crowd to a string of held breaths as she remembers her father suffering a heart attack on Christmas Eve, Amy Riordan embodies Luck as a classy gal unafraid to divulge her past to strangers while at the same time throwing in some words of wisdom on whether the house always wins or whether being lucky at cards ultimately means unlucky in love. Her irresistible charm, sexy card-playing savvy, tough-girl bravado, and homemade Cheese Ball dip (offered to the audience before curtain), all make her new play a winning combination.
Luck (90 minutes; no intermission)
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street
Tickets [www.ticketcentral.com or 212.279.4200]: $25
Performances [through 10/11]: Tues. @ 7:30pm; Weds.-Fris. @ 8:30pm; Sats. @ 6:30pm, 9pm; Suns. @ 3:30pm, 7:30pm
[PERFORMANCES] (Schedule OR remaining days)
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