The Atkinson Studio, Southport
To lose one winning lottery ticket may be regarded as misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness. Just when you thought the age of Lottery-inspired tales had finally passed, along comes Millionaire’s Anonymous, Stewart McDonald’s tale of Lottery winners or should that be Lottery losers?
With the heady days of Lottery fever a distant memory for many, it’s a rather curious choice of peg upon which to hang a drama. As a motif, the lost jackpot ticket has been explored many times, a fact which only increases the pressure on the dramatist to usurp expectation.
In this, their inaugural production, new theatre company Typecast Productions has chosen to explore the theme of money, or more precisely humanity’s never-ending lust for the green stuff. Timeless yes, but when dealing with the ‘universal’, cliché is an ever-present risk.
A group of previous Lottery winners, having won and subsequently lost Lottery fortunes by various means, meet for counselling sessions, the aim of which is to come to terms with their ‘losses’. Unbeknown to their counsellor, the ex-winners are busily running a Lottery syndicate. Some leopards, it seems, can never change their spots.
Millionaire’s Anonymous certainly starts with plenty of gusto as the Lotto addicts announce themselves to the audience and one another during one of their weekly sessions. A set of chairs provides a simple yet effective backdrop to the play’s opening scene. It’s how fringe should be: edgy and above all raw.
There are some well-judged performances along the way from a cast of talented local actors. Annabel Antress in the role of Dr Price is the type of stern, no-nonsense therapist that grown men dream of. Neil Macdonald and Geraldine Moloney Judge meanwhile have some comic moments as bickering middle-aged couple Julie and Mark.
Suspicion and paranoia abound when the syndicate realise they have actually scooped the jackpot. Lucky bunch. Or are they? They always say money can’t buy happiness and judging by the antics of this gang, there’s more than a grain of truth in that old assertion.
Lost Lottery tickets, dead bodies, toy guns, cocaine and ecstasy trips see the second act of this production slide firmly into the territory of farce. Whether intentionally or not is difficult to say.
As a production, Millionaire’s Anonymous works well enough on its own terms. While the plot might feel a little forced at times, thanks to the efforts of an energetic cast, the wheels of this production just about manage to stay on.
A little more pace in the second act would immeasurably help the play’s overall efficacy. Let’s just say when your second act is considerably longer than your first, it’s probably time to make some appropriate adjustments to the structure.
Having said all that, one can only admire the hard work and dedication of those involved with this production. Indie theatre is one heck of a steep learning curve. Hats off then to these guys for having a go.
If Millionaire’s Anonymous is not quite the finished article, there’s certainly enough here to suggest that Typecast Productions could bounce back even stronger in future.
Reviewer: David Sedgwick