There was a staged reading of a new play by Aradhana Tiwari in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, in the Goldman. The stage set consisted of a simple card table and a small smack table behind it with cereals and an assortment of snacks. The play has a fascinating premise being built around the idea that poker terms also apply to the dram unfolding in a rather dysfunctional family. The mother of the family named Sass Arlington was once "The First Lady of the Vegas Strip" but over time she became a tired hack player on a riverboat. Each scene is first narrated by Tip, the oldest son of the family and thus the man of the house. The scenes are built around the Blind, the flop, the turn, the river and the showdown. Tip is the most stoic of the family members. He is seen most times munching on a bowl of cereal sullenly ignoring the drama that unfolds. His sister Tally tried to fill the shoes of a nagging mother but few of her commands are ever heeded. The youngest sibling is Lucky who is innocent in many ways but has just started to learn to cheat at poker.
The play takes several dark and unexpected turns as the family struggles to stay afloat. Sketching was a real challenge since the house lights were almost always off and I didn't have a book light since it was being used for a show I would be putting on in the Shakes. Since I only got a half decent sketch, I decided to go to an Irish bar where Texas Hold 'um is played every week. I figured life must surely imitate art in this case.
Aradhana's play was very well written with imperfect characters that had life and breath. Sass at the end of the play is put to the test after she leaves the family to win big in Vegas. Although she might have won cash, she lost so much when she returned. Often a player will reach a point where they know they are going to loose and yet they can not help but keep betting. This was the case with her. She knew she had so much to loose because she was concerned about her family's welfare but she couldn't stop betting which meant she wasn't home to keep the family on a steady track. The play is tragic on many levels. You can catch the last FREE performance of this amazing play tonight at the Shakespeare Theater (810 East Rollins Street) at 8:00PM. I intend to watch it a second time with a new cast to appreciate the play's nuances even more.