Dublin Theatre Festival
Project Arts Centre
Big Ted is dying and Sullivan, Gary and Mark have come together to make final arrangements and farewells, but despite the constant beeping of hospital equipment in the background, this piece quickly reveals itself to be about much more than just the difficulties of composing a eulogy and making practical arrangements. Sullivan sees Ted as a father figure though he isn’t his biological son, Gary and Mark are estranged from Ted, their father, Gary is gay, Mark’s birth name was Laura; in short, there is a simmering tumult that the death of Ted is bringing to a head.
This tumult shines through in Conroy’s writing, with sharply insightful, carefully crafted dialogue running throughout the piece. This is punctuated with stirring and unsettling scenes of reminiscence that consume the stage and audience and envelop them in a chilling wave of memory and mis-memory. However, watching this piece I found there to be an imbalance of focus in the script between the characters. The writing (and partly direction) of the hierarchy of characters in this piece created too great of a division between the character of Mark (Amy Conroy) and those of Gary and Sullivan. Had the focus been somewhat more balanced, rather than being so strongly centred on Mark, each character, Mark included, could have brought more strength to the story.
In terms of design this performance was very impressive, with John Crudden’s lighting design deserving of particular mention. Aedín Cosgrove’s minimal set provided the perfect blank canvas for Crudden’s dynamic and evocative design.
Moving beyond the execution of this piece, Conroy’s treatment of the subject must be commended. Similarly to some of her other work, Luck Just Kissed You Hello brings subjects often swept under the carpet to the fore through a recognisable story or setting. In blending the story of the family and Big Ted with Mark’s experience of transition, Conroy makes both stories accessible and engaging.
With its blend of comedy, insight and harrowing truths, Luck Just Kissed You Hello is an exploration of family relationships, acceptance and identity that entertains and informs in equal measure.