Poster crop

reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Epilogue Players continues their 2017-18 season with Lucky Me, by Robert Caisley. This rather dark comedy is directed by Susan Rardin in her directorial debut, and presents the very original story of a woman, Sara, whose luck in all matters has gone south after a tragic occurrence in her life. Light bulbs blow out, fish die, cats flee, objects fly through her window and she is beset by some unlikely injuries. The latest injury accident puts her in contact with Tom, a friendly and empathetic TSA agent and new neighbor, who tries to help her find her way to a new beginning. Standing in the way of that restart is Sara’s blind father Leo, a complicated man with his own life issues, who hopes to “protect” his daughter from all harm.

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from left: Sonja Distefano (Sara), Kelly Keller (Tom), and Larry Haworth (Leo) in a scene from Epilogue Players’ “Lucky Me”

Sonja Distefano takes the role of the troubled Sara, deftly playing her with an almost shell-shocked persona. Her complex father Leo is handled by Larry Haworth. His curmudgeon is alternately angry, conniving, forgetful, delusional, contemptible and rude – a feast of characteristics which Haworth displays with skill. Tom is offered by Kelly Keller, in what is the best performance of the show. He mixes the TSA agent’s various emotions and desires in a polished and nuanced performance, concocting a believablity factor that comes rare. Mike Bauerle completes the cast as Sara’s Ukrainian landlord, Uri. His comic choices provide a nice new addition to the action in the second act.

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Mike Bauerle (Uri) with Kelly Keller (Tom) in a scene from Epilogue Players’ “Lucky Me”

The well-cast play is beset with some problems, I’m afraid. Uneven timing issues, specifically pacing and tempo, prevail. The presence of good pacing lends itself well to the set em up, knock em down nature of the comedy. These smart and snappy back-and-forth dialogue exchanges, which the script implies (and needs), do not find their way into many of the scenes – however, on the few occasions it does – it works marvelously.

If this had been a preview night, I might have accounted for this lack of sparkle as a result of preparation or nerves, but the performance I saw was the third before a paying audience and so I must assume it was an omission in the prep. Or perhaps it could have been a low energy factor – a result of the long production week of tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals and opening night that occurs sometimes by end of the first weekend. Whatever the cause, there seemed a lack of “pop” in the cues which did affect a number of the scenes in the performance I saw. A quick-paced line rehearsal could well be the cure.

Lucky cast

The cast of “Lucky Me” (from left) Larry Haworth, Mike Bauerle, Kelly Keller and Sonja Distefano

Bottomline: A good enough first-time effort by director Rardin. I’ll look forward to her subsequent turns. This production features a veteran cast of players and while there are the noted factors that could be sparked a bit more, the story is none-the-less original and engaging.

Lucky Me continues at Epilogue Players through March 18. For more information about dates, times and reservation go to http://www.epilogueplayers.com or call 317.926.3139.

  • – Photography: Duane Mercier, Rann Destefano
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