Luck Just Kissed You Hello – Abbey Theatre (Peacock) – Review
29 April – 14 May 2022
Written by Amy Conroy
Directed by Wayne Jordan
Ted Donovan hasn’t much time left. He’s in a coma in a hospital bed and his two estranged children have travelled home to be with him for his last hours. He had a difficult relationship with his children and they haven’t talked in many years. His son Gary (Ross O’Donnellan) along with his friend Sullivan (Jamie O’Neill) are already in the hospital room when Mark (Riley Carter) arrives. This is something of a shock for the pair, as Mark’s birth name was Laura and he has only recently transitioned to become a man! The play deals with the relationships between these three characters and also their disjointed memories of their father.
This is a play by playwright and actor Amy Conroy. Amy recently performed in the same space as this production (the Peacock theatre) in the Abbey Theatre’s production of Every Brilliant Thing. She has also written a number of successful plays, including the much loved I Heart Alice Heart I. This work (Luck Just Kissed You Hello) was first staged in 2015 as part of the Galway International Arts Centre and later in the Project Arts Centre. There is one noticeable difference in the cast, however, as the character of Mark was played by Amy Conroy herself in the original version.
Conroy’s main aim in the play was to study the effects a transition would have on the friends and family of a Trans person, and how it changes their relationships. In an interview in 2015, Conroy said – “I wanted to write about the physical and emotional journeys of people who change so dramatically, but also about the experience of those around them. So if you were to ask me to say what the show is about, I would say it is about families more than anything else.”
While we see the shock on the faces of the other characters with the arrival of Mark on stage and hear their reactions to his transition, the play never really delves into their innermost thoughts on the subject. The events of the play take place over the course of one night and their reactions are immediate and visceral. The discussion moves on to other topics such as who will give the eulogy at Ted’s funeral and whether his organs will be donated or not. The play is packed with so many ideas, that it’s hard to isolate any one event in this cocktail of emotions. The characters laugh, slag and even fight on stage, but with so many events taking place, it’s hard to distinguish their true feelings on any one issue.
The production is directed by Wayne Jordan, who has returned to directing after a number of recent appearances on stage as an actor. Jordan adds a touch of flair and dynamism to the production, with the actors moving off the stage and into the aisles of the theatre. The stage design by Sarah Bacon is comparatively simple, with an abstract backdrop, a small table and a few chairs (which receive much abuse). The stylish lighting design by Sarah Jane Shiels is used to alter the mood and change between scenes.
Riley Carter plays Mark who many may know from his time on Eastenders. He gives his character compassion and depth and you find yourself on his side from early on in the piece. Ross O’Donnellan’s Gary is a flash and outwardly confident gay man but he is quite damaged by his past. Jamie O’Neill plays Sullivan, the lone CIS straight man on stage! He often serves as the voice of the common man, fighting against the waves of political correctness. The cast is very impressive and put vitality into this piece, which never flags over its duration.
Mark: Riley Carter
Gary: Ross O’Donnellan
Sullivan: Jamie O’Neill
Writer: Amy Conroy
Director: Wayne Jordan
Set and Costume Design: Sarah Bacon
Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels
Sound Design: Fiona Sheil
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth
Casting Director: Sarah Jones
Fight Director: Eimear O’Grady
Hair and Makeup: Leonard Daly
Casting Assistant: Laura Quinn
Company Stage Manager: Clive Welsh
Deputy Stage Manager: Lianne O’Shea
Assistant Stage Manager: Shannon Cowan