Andrea Torrence – St. Louis Theatre Snob, November 4, 2014
After a debut in Ireland last year, Max & Louie Productions gives Robert Massey’s “Chancers” its US premiere. In it, a married couple are having a rough time making ends meet, and this comedy proves that good jobs go to the young, the rich get richer, and nice guys finish last.
Aiden (Nathan Bush) and Dee (Pamela Reckamp) own Farrell’s Quickstop, a convenience store in Kildare, Ireland, but economic times have forced them to rent out their house to make a little money and live out of two back storerooms of the shop. In the opening scene, Dee gets ready for her first job interview in years, and Aiden busies himself setting up the store for customers who won’t come. About the only customer they do have is Gertie (Donna Weinsting), the neighborhood nag, who made a ton of money off of a shrewd property deal, and now she visits the Quickstop for her sausage sandwich, to throw her (hilarious) foul-mouthed criticism around, and remind the couple how much their lives suck. When Aiden discovers that Gertie has her hands on a winning lottery ticket, his buddy JP (Jared Sanz-Agero), also suffering from Ireland’s economic downturn, advises him that they should get a hold of that ticket by any means necessary. Aiden has serious reservations about JP’s ballsy plan, but once Dee signs off on it, after her job prospects dwindle and a bombshell she drops in the second act, an urgency is cleverly added that propels the threesome to consider the boldest of moves.
Under Sydnie Grosberg Ronga’s direction, there are fine performances from this tight cast of four, starting with Bush as Aiden, a good husband and father who reacts to JP’s suggestions with wide-eyed resistance. Reckamp is convincing as Dee, as is her chemistry with Bush, and their fear of how they will make it. Sanz-Agero provides a lot of humor as the conniving JP, who coincidentally was once engage to Dee, and Weinsting is reliably uproarious as Gertie, the town harpy. Margery & Peter Spack’s scenic design presents a fully realized convenience store, from the tatty “save”, “half-price” and “deal” signs to the colorful stringer pennants. Also, there’s nothing like a well executed Irish brogue (love), and these four handle it with ease. The hardships and moral dilemmas the characters face in Massey’s play are real, and the comic spin works well. It’s a fun play that shows how far good people will go to get their due, playing until the 16th at the Kranzberg.