The Way of the Cards
Written and Directed by Aradhana Tiwari
Play the Moment
Presented at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL
It’s not only the variable income and constant threat of bankruptcy that makes a gambling household unhappy, it’s the total obsession with game playing that shifts the focus away from trusting, stable family life. “Sass” Arlington (Kate Ingram) used to be the “First Lady of the Vegas Strip” but now she’s holed up in a fetid river town playing for small stakes with the tourists and red necks on a “boat” moored to the shore. Her youngest son Lucky (Gabe Patrick) want to be a card mechanic while he older son Tip (Anthony Pyatt Jr.) sullenly eats his cereal and acts as narrator and explains Texas Hold ‘Em to the poker illiterate such as I. Sass is especially hard on her daughter Tally (Olivia Richardson), she keeps telling her “after all I’ve done for you…” which that mostly seems to not having aborted her back when Sass was a hot hand at The Mirage. This week looks particularly rough, the power got cut off and the cornflakes are running low but Sass hits one big hand and now she off to Vegas, and she’s NOT taking messages. Disaster awaits this family, it knows to strike when you feel most triumphant.
It’s hard to tell what hold this family together, they yell at each other constantly and we never see a close or loving moment. Tally is 18 and leaving home seems a perfectly reasonable option even if that strands mom and the boys on a sand bar. Ingram is suitably spacey and obsessed, she brooks no lip from anyone but has enough planning skills to but candles in anticipation of a black out. Pyatt does his best smoldering anger stuff here, he has one scene where Zanna Paulson’s lighting brings up one eyebrow, and that eyebrow is perfect.
There’s merit in the analogy between cards and life, some people can plan and anticipate and bluff better than others, but there’s always an element of unknown. The Arlington’s all seem capable of dealing with that luck/chance/statistic aspect of life, but they seem less capable of focusing on home and heart, and they tend to score everything in terms of winning and losing and how many chips they have in front of them. That’s not enough, at least as I see it, there needs to be something less calculating to make for happiness. It’s not clear the Arlington’s are ready for that yet, but I wouldn’t want to sit across a green felt with any of them.
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