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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Lucky Me
I figure this out: whatever come out Leo's mouth, approximately one out of three things is true, one out of three, he not remember, one of out of three, is complete, utter bullshit. — Yuri
Lucky Me
: Wendy Peace and Michael Irvin Pollard (Photo credit: SuzAnne Barabas)
It was only little more than a year ago that I reviewed Robert Caisley's dark comedy Happy ( Review) in which we saw the loony lengths that a couple of vengeful neurotics would go to unsettle the security and composure of a well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky guy and his wife. The talented Caisley is back with another play that stretches the boundaries of neurotic behavior, but with a more comically romantic slant.

With Lucky Me , Caisley (a professor of theater and Head of the Dramatic Writing Program at the University of Idaho) sends his characters on a more metaphysically induced expedition: one that boggles the mind as it also becomes more curious. Funny enough without it making much sense for most of Act I, Lucky Me considers the possibility that some people may be born either lucky or unlucky, while others are more likely to accept the idea that they are not only deserving of the bad luck that defines their life, but are subsequently, if also subconsciously, willing to see and accept the unsettling things that are manifested in their world.

Purposefully incredulous, this play, under the fine direction of SuzAnne Barabas, continues the playwright's interest in neurotics, with a third play presumably to follow. Here is where the metaphysics comes into play and specifically into the play as it applies to forty year-old Sara Fine (Wendy Peace) whose life for the past twenty-two years has been a non-stop series of disastrous events and mishaps both physical and emotional.

The furnishings are covered in plastic within the second-floor two bedroom apartment that has been expressly designed by Jessica Parks with significant help from lighting designer Jill Nagle to respond to the tumult to which it has and will be exposed. In short order, we learn that Sara is coping the best she can with a constantly leaking roof, a broken kitchen window that seems to invites intruding baseballs, the expectancy of dead fish in the fish bowl, light bulbs that blow out so often that she keeps a cabinet filled with replacements, and a cat that regularly goes AWOL. She's not a happy camper, especially as we first see her with her leg in a cast following a fall from the roof. She is no stranger to accidents and seems clear about being diagnosed with "EHS: electromagnetic hypersensitivity." In no way is she ready for the romantic zeal of an empathetic stranger who won't accept what he hears and sees. A feeling of melancholy adds to the persuasiveness of Peace's performance.

Don't despair if you can't figure out what to make of what you see and hear in Act I. From the start of Act II, you will be laughing too hard to let any lack of comprehension bother you.

Brought home from the hospital by forty-something Tom (a terrific Michael Irvin Pollard), a thoughtful new neighbor who works as an airport security guard. Despite her reticence, Tom's determination to understand what is going on with Sara is further piqued by the unnerving presence of Leo (Dan Grimaldi), her blind, belligerent and extremely rude father who spends most of his time either mocking every word spoken by Tom or talking to imaginary people on a cell phone. Tom also becomes acquainted with Uri (Mark Light-Orr ), the Ukrainian landlord who evidently spends a good deal of time in the apartment fixing things and who also harbors a protective interest in Sara.

Sara's answer to a world in which people and things appear to be her adversaries is to be left alone. She apparently accepts the bizarre and often terrible things that happen to and around her as appropriate punishment for past deeds and decisions. How and why bad things happen to her as well as apparently to those around her becomes part of the equation, the thrust of the plot and its satisfying resolve. Pollard, Peach and Light-Orr played roles in Happy and are once again spot-on in interpreting the close to absurdist characters. However, it is left to expressionless Grimaldi's Leo to get most of the laughs with his blistering, often non-sensical retorts. Let's thank our lucky stars that there are plays that don't necessarily make sense but can still make us laugh.

Lucky Me is having its world premiere at NJ Rep. as a part of the National New Play Network that will include productions this coming season at the Curious Theatre in Denver, CO (Jan. 25 - Feb. 15, 2015); Riverside Theatre Iowa City IA (January 24 - February 15, 2015, and the 6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa, CA. (January 30 - February 15, 2015).

Lucky Me
By Robert Caisley
Directed by SuzAnne Barabas

Cast: Michael Irvin Pollard (Tom), Wendy Peace (Sara Fine), Dan Grimaldi (Leo Fine), Mark Light-Orr (Yuri)
Stage Manager: Jennifer Tardibuono
Scenic Design & Properties: Jessica Parks
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Sound Design: Merek Royce Press
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Running Time: 2 hours including intermission
New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ
732 - 229 - 3166 or
Tickets: $42.00
Performances: Thursdays through Sundays at 8 pm; also Saturdays at 3 pm & Sundays at 2 pm
From 07/31/14 Opened 08/02/14 Ends 08/31/14
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 08/02/14 <
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