Megan Riordan in Luck
(© Kristopher Medina)
Megan Riordan in Luck
(© Kristopher Medina)
You have perhaps seen the one-person show where the principal is trapped with an audience, forced to unburden herself to win freedom or maybe just to while away the time. However, Luck a stylish little tour-de-force for star Megan Riordan now at 59 E 59, tweaks the familiar set-up.

There's little doubt that Riordan has invited us to Theater C - which she's transformed into a Vegas-style lounge and tempts us with goodies as we enter -- but once inside, it's clear this is a woman not quite at liberty. Luck and lineage have conspired to make her a natural-born gambler, and for 75 well-paced minutes, we tour the psyche of a family where games of chance are both compulsion and profession

To set their show apart from other semi-biographical explorations, Riordan, director Dodd Loomis, and collaborator Shawn Sturnick have devised a number of nifty conceits. The evening is designed as variety show that incorporates night-vision confessions, improvised dance, beat-the-clock games -- and a whole lot of chance. Projections and mysterious intonations guide Riordan from segment to segment, with audience members often deciding what Riordan will explore next by rolling dice or spinning a miniature roulette wheel.

Indeed, a strict adherence to arbitrary cut-offs lend the evening a propulsive energy designed to withstand short attention spans -- although I wish Riordan was allowed time to finish the story about Bruce Willis being an infamously bad tipper.

The most clearly planned material is the weakest. The snippets about her father being both seedy and stalwart paint a clear enough picture that we don't need her to try to put it all together in a final monologue. Still, Riordan nails addiction's contradictions -- the understanding of evils coupled with involuntary excitement. Equally impressive, the young actress makes the mapped-out moments and the choose-your-own adventure sections feel equally spontaneous.