The chips are down with Lady Luck

Poster from Mediartrix-UST official Facebook page

DEFEAT IS the hardest to take in one’s prime. When the stakes are high, and deceit is the name of the game, every card counts. The wager is life and only crooks get to keep it.

Money is king in Mediartrix-UST’s newest production entitled Lady Luck. It is the organization’s first original play to feature jazz music. The story follows a cunning gambler as she navigates her way out of a world of deception and lies.

The play premiered on April 22, 2024, at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium, under the direction of Maynee Singson, Lean Miguel Trinidad and Chrystel Eve Marquez.

Lady Luck showcases the pitfalls of escapism such as gambling and alcohol consumption, as well as their effects on families, particularly on the children. The show also portrays the great accountability that comes with power, especially those acquired instantly.

The story begins at a gaming house, where Mallory (Kirsten Asis) plays a game of blackjack with a novice.  Her tragedy begins when a new challenger asks her to drink and she arrogantly obliges, sipping the wine served to her by Hugh Silver (Cedrik Labios), her mentor. This sends her to Greed’s Wager, a casino operated by Lady Luck (Trisha Sto. Tomas), a long-undefeated bettor. Losing at a round, Mallory gets thrown into the abyss guarded by the King of the Fiends (Drei Sugpatan), where she struggles to free herself from captivity and internal strife.

The premise of the plot was interesting as it placed a powerful character in a position where everyone is her coequal, giving her a conflict to resolve. Additionally, pitting characters with immense abilities against each other made the duels exciting, as the protagonist was portrayed as both dominant and disadvantaged. The supporting actors were given a chance to express their stories, yet this did not lead to much progress during the show. There was also a good balance of characters, ranging from the extremely heartless, passive and pessimistic, to the funny lunatic. The crowd’s attention had been piqued by these aspects. However, the play would have been better if there were more narratives about the Greed’s Wager and if there was a clearer explanation of how to get in and out of the infernal casino.

As mystic as the story is, it discusses important social issues. Mallory’s character was shaped growing up without her mom and in the company of her alcoholic dad. This caused her to forge her own opportunities and to resent her parents. Hunger for power is also depicted, as it is one of the reasons the characters keep holding on to the same shackles that strangle them. In every set of games they play they wager their lives, ending up in shambles when defeat inevitably comes.

The actors’ performance was impeccable. Asis and Sto. Tomas’ voices exhibit great power not only during the singing parts but also when delivering lines full of anger and intimidation. The characters’ unique vocal nuances, especially Labios’ distinct accent and Sugpatan’s hysterical laugh, easily set each other apart. Additionally, the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and eye movements added substance to their characters. Along with maniacal voices in keeping with their nature, these also helped make the ensemble and the croupiers remarkable.

The performers also managed to interact with the audience by breaking the fourth wall at one point, referencing the same play’s song and dance part. These playful gestures brought humor to the otherwise completely sinister plot.

The costumes of the performers were impeccable as well. The supporting cast’s make-up made them stand out alongside the main cast. The Fiend King’s clothing was representative of his comical wickedness while the colors and gleam of Lady Luck’s attire made her look majestically cruel. This made the extraordinary aspects of their characters more imaginable to the audience.

Choosing jazz music as the accompaniment for the play was a wise choice, as it provided a calm yet stirring atmosphere commonly found at a gambling venue. The quiet tunes played in the background also added suspense and tension. The composition was simple and no-frills, allowing the “emotionally constipated” characters, as Mallory was called, to voice out their musings during their singing parts.

Even though a lot of people arrived during the premier night, the venue proved to be sufficient. The orchestra performing upstairs added another layer of mystery to the performance. The set used, albeit two-dimensional, was amazing and spotless. The velvet curtains, gold adornments and illuminated signages brought the audience to a real casino. The backdrop shook when the conflict started to escalate, and it stirred the spectators to be immersed in the scene more.

Armed with an elegant backdrop conducive to immersive world-building, versatile actors and a gripping plot, the play narrated relevant phenomena surrounding the betting table. Along with this, its undertones criticized neglectful parenting and hunger for power. Bringing the patrons to the betting table, Lady Luck is a story one can bet on. F

1 Comment

  • Your article disregards some of the main actors who took crucial roles of a single character in the show. Please consider editing it, as it invalidates the hardships.

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