ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
Luck turns the theater into a gambling casino and a lucky few among the audience into participants. Their throw of the die, spin of the roulette wheel and flip of a card determines what Riordan will do next. The audience soon realizes, however, that whatever she does, it will most certainly be entertaining.
In fact, under Dodd Loomis's deft direction, Riordan glides effortlessly from dance to song to exposition to storytelling. One has the feeling Loomis and Riordan have really left nothing to chance. But, as any casino operator will tell you, illusion is everything.
Riordan's explanation of how casinos make the odds work for them, how professional gamblers work against those odds and how these same professionals try to disguise their status after they are banned from said casinos is fascinating. But the most engaging part of the show is when Riordan spins a chair three times, then sits down and tells stories about her eccentric family. Her storytelling includes how her father Max tried to scam her out of a gift at her wedding, the time her deflowering was derailed when Bobby the lay's dad asked her what her father did for a living, and the adventures of her "uncle," who tried unsuccessfully to outwit the casino system by gambling from a wheelchair.
Although much in Riordan's tale is quite romantic, clearly, all her experiences weren't blissful. She makes her way several times to the back of the house, where, speaking into a camera, she delivers a heartfelt and agonized reflection on the vicissitudes of the gambling life. She also leaves no doubt that in the end most people lose at the gambling tables (one suspects professional gamblers lift their noses at slots). Even her father, disguised as Santa Claus, suffers a heart attack while testing his luck. But it's doubtful she will convince anyone to cancel his Las Vegas or Atlantic City vacation.
It's not hard to see that Riordan has a love/hate relationship with gambling. If not addicted like her father, she is certainly tempted by the danger and the daring, the ups and downs, the uncertainty and endless possibilities the gambler experiences. Like all people who live on the edge, Riordan cautions against a life that may end in disaster and at the same time, makes that life seem irresistible.