Customs House, South Shields
Lucky Numbers is the winner of the biennial People's Play Award, given by the North East's leading amateur company, the People's Theatre, Newcastle, where it received its premiere in April. Now the Customs House is giving it its first professional production with a cast that includes some of the region's leading actors.
It's a light comedy and the first night audience were clearly in a mood to enjoy it, for they laughed almost from the first word. Built around the universal dream of winning the Lottery and the almost as universal nightmare of losing the winning ticket, the opportunities for comedy are many. Throw in a grandmother who seems to be hovering on the edge of senility, a mother who is having an affair with her lazy husband's friend, a goth daughter (and her boyfriend) and an overweight, computer game-obsessed son, and the possibilities multiply exponentially. Author Mike Yeaman takes most of these opportunities and introduces a few twists and turns, some obvious and some not so expected.
Director Jackie Fielding has assembled a strong cast, led by Pat Dunn as Grandma. She inhabits the part so thoroughly that one might almost think it had been written for her, and avoids the temptation to overplay. At times the writing almost invites the actress to mug, but she wisely refrains from doing so and keeps her characterisation within the bounds of credibility, which, of course, adds to the humour.
She is well supported by Carol McGuigan as her daughter, Peter G Harrison as the daughter's husband, Christopher Connel as the lover, Laura Norton as the sulky teenage goth, Andy Bates as her on-off boyfriend and Baden Burns as the son.
As an evening of light entertainment the play works well and the first night audience certainly enjoyed themselves. It could do with a little pruning here and there (the waste disposal sub-plot goes on rather too long and doesn't really contribute all that much) and it is a little over-written, but it is Yeaman's first stage play (he has written for radio and TV shows like Spitting Image and Smack the Pony) and he does have a definite comic talent.