NuVoices-winning actor play “The Luckiest People” is compassionate

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From ATC's

From ATC’s “Luckiest People”: Scott A. Miller, Tim Ross, Dennis Delamar, Susan Stein.

Ramsey lyrics

“The Luckiest People” takes its title from the lyrics of “Funny Girl,” and by the end of Act 1, you’ll wonder if playwright Meridith Friedman is ironic: her people, who desperately need people, indeed deplorable luck.

Oscar, half motionless and half blind in his 80s, was in desperate need of his caretaker wife, but she just died and left him helpless and bitter.

Her daughter Laura, who married a Chinese man and lives in an unwelcoming part of Shanghai, believes she might need an extramarital affair with an ex-boyfriend who has appeared.

Son Richard has no clear idea of ​​what he needs: Presumably David, his caring partner, but certainly not Oscar, who is now thinking of moving in with the two men.

David needs Joshua, the 6-year-old he and Richard have agreed to adopt. But while Richard is cold-hearted, this life-changing decision can create a wedge between partners and drive them apart forever.

Friedman resolves these dilemmas with compassion, insight, and ambiguities that seem to match the mood she creates. I’ve seen every nuVoices new play festival winner since the Actor’s Theater of Charlotte premiered in 2012, and none have deserved a longer or more fruitful life. (“People” won the 2016 festival. Its continuing world premiere has started in Denver, has come to Charlotte, and will perform in other cities.)

Although Friedman is limited to four characters, it covers a wide range of alternatives: gay and straight, male and female, old and middle-aged, upbringing and childless, Jewish and Christian and non-believer. She does not plead for any of them or preach to us.

Oscar, for example, remains difficult to like but easy to understand. He accepts his son’s sexual preference up to a point – Oscar and David get along well – but can’t wrap his depressed mind around the idea that they want a son. Laura and Richard engage and annoy us in turn. Only David has a constant attraction; he knows what he wants and does not judge others because they pursue what they want.

Sidney Horton leads his quartet of actors with understated skill, and their unforced performances hit the right notes. Dennis Delamar played Oscar in the readings at nuVoices 2016 festival and easily settles into the stooped posture, shaky walk and stubborn ferocity of the old man. (Is it a coincidence that he shares his name with the grumpy “Sesame Street”?)

ATC newcomer Susan Stein reveals the silent anxiety of a woman who has a chance to decide whether to meet her needs or those of her baby boy, though that choice is overlooked in the script . Scott A. Miller embodies the emotional anchor that everyone else sometimes seeks, and Tim Ross shows us the awkwardness of balance that Richard performs: he won’t find any entirely satisfactory results and his shoulders sag under that knowledge.

Actor’s Theater opens a five-year residency at Queens University with this play; he played it before trying to open a permanent home on Freedom Drive, but gave up on that quest. The privacy of the Hadley Theater suits this show well, as it should suit any production ATC might do.

Development director Bennett Rich preceded Saturday’s presentation by saying the company now hopes to relaunch nuVoices after a two-year hiatus. If so, and the festival discovers pieces as interesting as this one, the lucky ones will be us.

“The luckiest people”

When: Until February 17 at 7:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Thursday, at 8 p.m. from Friday to Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Or: Hadley Theater, Queens University, 2132 Radcliffe Ave.

Tickets: $ 25- $ 44.

Operating time: 125 minutes, one intermission.

Details: 704-372-1000 or atcharlotte.org.


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