Review: Luck Just Kissed You Hello

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.

Big Ted Donovan is on his death bed, the only thing keeping him alive is a ventilator. His estranged son and next of kin Mark (Amy Conroy) arrives at the hospital for his father’s last hours. As next of kin he must sign the legal documents allowing Big Ted’s organs to be used for transplant. Besides their turbulent history one reason Mark is struggling to sign the document is because it doesn’t recognise him as the man he is today; it refers to him as Laura, Big Ted’s daughter, the person he was known as. Joined in the hospital room by his twin brother Gary (Will O’Connell) and their old friend Sullivan (Mark Fitzgerald), who has become like a son to Big Ted, Mark must struggle with his past as well as his present in order to shape a better future for himself.

With three discrete types of men in the room, four including Big Ted, whose presence is ever felt, it isn’t long before tempers flare and things get personal. The challenge of being masculine and what that even means dominates the story, with as many jokes as insults thrown about. None of the characters live the life that other people believe they do. Mark’s may have changed the most in some ways but neither Gary nor Sullivan are living their dreams. Gary’s life is consumed by the business world and Sullivan has lived the life he was expected to, rather than doing what he wanted to.

As they try to resolve their past, in particular a specific childhood event, the trio challenge each other’s memories, with Sullivan in particular having a different version of events. This, while important to the overall concept and theme, can be a little repetitive at times. Given the emotive scene being portrayed it is natural that tempers fray however allegiances form and fade rapidly between the three men.  Momentarily supportive, they quickly turn on each other, with Gary’s lack of support for Mark at times seeming particularly uncaring. The quick tongued dialogue stands out, in particular some of Mark’s throw-away comments and references to Irish country life.  Conroy’s script works well at portraying the complexities of familial relationships as well as trans issues, while holding onto a sense of humour which keeps the momentum going in what can be a heavy piece of theatre.

The simple but convincing set (Aedín Cosgrove) encapsulates the feel and emotion of a hospital deathbed: the clinical features, the headache-inducing overhead lighting, and the awful commercial lino. Lighting (John Crudden) and sound (Carl Kennedy) work in harmony at highlighting the conflict, both in the present hospital room as well as scenes of reminiscence.   

With three powerful performances from the cast under the direction of Caitriona McLaughlin, Luck Just Kissed You Hello asks the interminable question of what makes a person who they are. Toying with themes of gender and identity throughout, as well as the impact of family and society, this prescient piece takes the pulse of modern Ireland.

Writer:  Amy Conroy

Director: Caitriona McLaughlin

Runs until October 4th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival

Image: Ros Kavanagh

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