Fortune’s Smile

Robert Caisley’s comedy Lucky Me premieres at OCT

Joe Cronin (left), Kelly Quinnett and Eric Hadley in OCT’s Lucky Me
Joe Cronin (left), Kelly Quinnett and Eric Hadley in OCT’s Lucky Me

Sara is unlucky. She has a problem with light bulbs blowing out, leftovers spontaneously combusting and goldfish going belly up before their time.

But in the new comedy Lucky Me by Robert Caisley — now playing at Oregon Contemporary Theatre — Sara finds something special because of her supposed faults, not in spite of them.

Written in a snappy style reminiscent of Kaufman and Hart, Caisley populates Sara’s leaky apartment with a cast of genuine and lovable misfits.

First we meet Tom, an earnest TSA officer who helps the limping Sara home after her latest accident has landed her in an ankle boot. Eric Hadley’s Tom is warm and irrepressibly positive, always eager to come to someone’s aid as he tries to fit into the mix. Hadley brings a huggable masculinity to the role, with terrific humor and timing. Watching Tom relate to this motley crew while trying to keep his composure is nothing short of delightful.

Joe Cronin as Sara’s father Leo is every bit the endearing curmudgeon, barbed with one-liners and pithy comebacks for everyone around him. Leo’s a shut-in, dependent on Sara for life’s essentials, but so independent in his own spirit that it hardly matters. With his razor-sharp delivery and emotional nuance, Cronin engages throughout.

Trusty landlord Yuri, played with broad physicality and charm by Tony Stirpe, injects some needed zaniness into the more dramatic exposition of the second act.

And as Sara, Kelly Quinnett is simply radiant, infusing the role with a longing for normalcy and an acceptance that “normal” is probably what you make it. Sara shines through the face of adversity, not with some Pollyanna disingenuity, but as herself. Quinnett not only makes it possible for us to care about Sara, but we root for her all the way.

That is perhaps the greatest success of Caisley’s work here as a playwright. Though he seems overly encumbered by backstory in the second half of the play, he never strays from his mission to allow the relationship between Tom and Sara to grow and develop organically. There’s not a whiff of theatrical artifice, or of that sitcom penchant for tying everything up in a neat little bow.

Credit also goes to director Patrick Torelle, who confidently builds a complete world in Sara’s little apartment. Through Torelle’s guidance, characters become so real and enjoyable that you wish you could see them again.

Lucky Me plays through May 2 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, 194 Broadway. $15-$35; for tickets, call 465-1506. 

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