BWW Review: THE LUCKIEST Explores Friendship And Family At La Jolla Playhouse
THE LUCKIEST is a kind of love story, though not in the traditional form. This is a show about the power and strength that come from loving friends, family, and loving yourself enough to know what to do in the face of a life changing event. This world premier play by Melissa Ross, playing at the La Jolla Playhouse through July 28th, is a moving look at the power of living and loving in the present since you never know what tomorrow may bring.
Lissette (Aleque Reid) is a sassy, take no prisoners kind of girl, who speaks her mind and can also mix you one of the best cocktails you've ever tasted. Her best friend Peter (Reggie D. White) is a supportive, and equally spirited person who supports and challenges Lissette as much as she does him.
When Lissette gets a diagnosis that has a grave impact on how she will continue to live her life, it is Reggie to whom she turns for support. Lissette's mother Cheryl (Deirdre Lovejoy) is no delicate flower either and makes her thoughts known to both of them about how events are moving forward.
Starting near the end of the timeline, the play is told in a nonlinear timeline the play jumps around from scene to scene incrementally showing how everyone got to the present moment. Directed by Jaime Castañeda, the play is a lot like its characters; compelling, energetic, and filled with drive. Castañeda keep the energy and the story from ever turning overly maudlin or sad and focuses on these three characters and their journeys.
Reid is powerful as the vulnerable, lively, and determined Lissette. It is not until an emotionally impactful monologue on her diagnosis that everything is revealed. Her physicality changes are excellent as scenes require her to adapt quickly and convincingly depending on where in the timeline it falls. (This is also why I'm not divulging it in this review.)
White is equally touching as Reggie, a friend and confidant that is just as thrown by the changes this diagnosis brings to their friendship and his life. He opens the show with a funny, and slightly manic monologue about the party he is throwing Lisette, complete with his knowledge of how Lissette prefers the ganache on her cake (no jam please), and his helplessness in the face of the Trade Joe snack aisle (same).
Lovejoy as Cheryl, Lissette's mother is both fragile and ferocious as she fights for (and sometimes with) her daughter about her future decisions. Her Woburn accent is spot on as anyone who has meet someone from that part of the country can attest.
Life, death, love, friendship- it's all explored in this show with the compelling trio as its cast. Audiences will leave with plenty of emotions and thoughts on their own life and relationships.
It does answer the query of what you call the people who live, love, and support each other through the good times and the bad. As the play demonstrates, they're THE LUCKIEST.
Photo Credit: Reggie D. White and Aleque Reid in THE LUCKIEST; photo by Jim Carmody