Website Review

Chris Gibson –, November 11, 2014

We are truly lucky in St. Louis to have so many theatre companies that provide us with premier productions of engaging plays from around the globe. Since their inception in 2010, Max & Louie Productions has been one of those troupes that are always on the lookout for something new and different, and with their current presentation of Irish playwright Robert Massey’s Chancers, they’ve found a work that fits both criteria. The characters and locations might be foreign, but the situation that drives the play is something we can distinctly identify with as Americans; a desperate need for cash in order to get back on our feet again. Genuinely funny, but with a touch of drama to give it depth, Chancers will hit home with anyone who has seen their savings dwindle and their spending tighten due to the current economic conditions.

Aiden runs a failing convenience store in Ireland. The scarcity of jobs and industry in his region has resulted in a downturn in business which has left him with little options. Despite this fact, Aiden retains a positive outlook, banking on the notion that good things eventually happen to good people if they just keep plugging away. His more level headed wife, Dee, is out looking for work in order to keep them both afloat, but finding the job market bereft of opportunities. One of their regulars, the crotchety and foul-tongued Gertie, happens to stop by to check out whether a lotto ticket she purchased (at another store, of course) is a winner or not. Aiden looks it up in the system, but when he sees that she’s won 250,000 Euros, he lies and tells her it was a losing entry. However, rather than toss it in the trash, the old bat hangs on to the ticket anyway, creating a situation that will test the moral fiber of Aiden, Dee, and their mutual friend JP.

Nathan Bush is an amiable sort as Aiden, and you can’t help but want to see his business succeed, even though it seems doomed to failure, if only due to his naivete. He confides his findings to JP, who conceives a plan whereby they can purloin the ticket for themselves. Jared Sanz-Agero is very good as the more deviant JP, and watching the pair play off one another is a real treat. Buxom Pamela Reckamp is also sharp as Dee, and it’s interesting and very telling to see her reaction to the dilemma once she’s been clued in. Donna Weinsting is simply marvelous as the crusty Gertie, spouting coarse retorts and opinions that grate on all their nerves. Plans are put in place, and some are even tried without success, leaving us with an open ending that hints at a possible solution.

Director Sydnie Grosberg Ronga contributes splendidly to the proceedings, mining this piece for all the comic and dramatic moments it presents. The cast is aided by the efforts of dialect coach Katy Keating, who manages to draw out convincing Irish accents that still maintain the clarity of the dialogue. Margery and Peter Spack have crafted a eye catching scenic design that neatly captures the locale, and it’s all nicely lit by John Cameron Carter. Rai Feltmann’s props add an air of authenticity to the surroundings as well.

Max & Louie Productions has put together a winning combination with their presentation of Chancers. Check it out at the Kranzberg Arts Center through November 16, 2014.