Monday, September 28, 2009


Megan Riordan may be Irish, and her one-woman tell-all about casinos may be part of the 1st Irish festival, but Luck is full Vegas. This isn't a good thing--Dodd Loomis's over-the-top direction makes the show as informal as a cheap cocktail lounge; in fact, as the audience is seated, "Kim" (one of Megan's false names) passes around her favorite appetizer: a "Vegas Cheeseball." Furthermore, Shawn Sturnick's contributed text--which one assumes is some of the gambling terminology--gets in the way of Riordan's heartfelt confessional. So does the gimmicky presentation, in which the elements to be shared are selected at random by dice, coins, roulette wheels, and cards.

If Riordan's show were actually about Vegas, these effects would sarcastically enhance the show, by dint of its own needless excesses. Those odd dance breaks, choreographed with "world luck rituals and actual professional gambling signals," might take on meaning. But the story--the one you can't already find in books like Bringing Down the House--isn't really about the surface, in which Megan wears wigs and goes by false names in order to play cooperative blackjack with a team led by her father "Max." (Because this is the only way to actually have an edge on the house, which otherwise always wins, casinos will ban any players they catch doing so.)

But the show is actually about Riordan's attempt to find something real in her relationships, and one wishes she'd at last take the opportunity to do away with constitutional luck, now that she does have the power to change her circumstances. As is, the show only manages to demonstrate that old salt about luck: preparation meets opportunity. (And even this opportunity is squandered, whispering to night-vision cameras and dancing to "Female of the Species.")

Then again, people do love a good card trick, and Riordan herself is pretty charming. When she's not being interrupted, her grand storytelling is filled with lush Irish wit ("Kinsale is, and there's no way around using this word, picturesque") and a card-counter's eye for details ("Santa is wheeled from the casino, belly down on the gurney, shards of glass vertical in his ass"). Unfortunately--perhaps because there are 2,764,800 variations on this play--Riordan is stuck playing the performer, unable to escape being the actor her father raised her to be.

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