PicksInSix Review: LOTTERY DAY Goodman Theatre
‘LOTTERY DAY’ IS A WINNING COMBINATION!
A steamy confrontation between Mallory (J. Nicole Brooks) and her neighbor Vivien (Michele Vazquez) looms early on in Ike Holter’s “Lottery Day,” the crowning achievement in his seven-play “Rightlynd Saga.” As Mallory prepares for an epic barbeque in her backyard, she wants nothing to do with her vile neighbor. A good, stiff drink emboldens Vivien to vehemently complain that the noise will be intolerable, just before she zeros in with a personal threat. Wordless, Mallory remains stoic, her pent-up anger and frustration boiling. When Vivien realizes what she has said and whom she is talking to—Mallory controls everything and everyone in Holter’s fictitious 51st Chicago Ward—the tables turn so quickly that her head spins. The ill-advised “Pounder” she had slurped down certainly didn’t help.
It’s just the beginning of a revelatory story with Brooks at the apex, an all-encompassing presence in “Lottery Day” that extends outward even when Mallory sits holed up in her house while everyone else chases the clues to the prize, Mallory’s personal lottery, which is not necessarily for the betterment of the neighborhood or its inhabitants. Brooks’s searing central performance—directed by Lili-Anne Brown in her Goodman debut— towers in and among the rich and finely chiseled characters of the drama.
If you are wondering whether it is necessary to have seen any or all of the previous installments—which was the question that was bantered about in the high-energy buzz swirling in Goodman’s Owen Theatre on Monday night—the answer is no. Your enjoyment of Holter’s last day and night in Rightlynd will be enriched with those experiences, but do not let their absence dissuade you from putting “Lottery Day” where it belongs—at the top of your must-see list!
Holter’s blistering storyline, with Brown’s surgically skilled direction, make a jazzed-up, in-your-face, winning combination. As far removed as the isolated 51st Ward is from where we sat on Dearborn—physically, politically and every other way—the Goodman palette surges with every fiber of Brown’s edgy, storefront directing style. The result is a haunting, awe-inspiring culmination of Holter’s brilliant seminal work.
In addition to masterful performances by Brooks, the venerable James Vincent Meredith (Avery), a fierce Sydney Charles (Zora) and the combined electrically charged turns of Tommy Rivera-Vega (Ezekiel) and Aurora Adachi-Winter (Tori), the ensemble is stocked from top to bottom with the talented McKenzie Chinn (Cassandra), Robert Cornelius (Robinson), Tony Santiago (Nunley), Pat Whalen (Ricky) and Vazquez.
What is it about? It’s an anniversary. Closure. The passing of the guard while all the things that neighbors have been whispering about roar to the surface on a magnificent Arnel Sancianco set, with gorgeous Samantha C. Jones costumes, and lighting and sound by Jason Lynch and Andre Pluess. No spoilers here. Make a reservation now to see “Lottery Day” before people change the neighborhood and you no longer have a choice in the matter.
through April 28th
170 N Dearborn Street
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago