by Beki Pineda

THE LUCKY ONES –  Written by Lia Romeo; Directed by Debe Hultgren. Produced by Misfits Theater Company (presented at Deviant Spirits Distillery at 2480 49th Street, Boulder) through May 31. Tickets available at etuckman@gmail.com.

While most theatres are looking for small cast shows with which to re-open, the real “lucky ones” are the ones who find a script as charming and true to life as this basic two-hander by Lia Romeo. Ms. Romeo has a gift with dialogue making it natural and seemingly effortless.  She also has an understanding of the limits of friendship and the love/hate relationship that can evolve when the stakes get changed. Haven’t we all had that friend who was just a little bit jealous of what we had and who we were? The one who can barely hide their dismay when you get a raise or meet a guy or win a prize. The one who would turn into a bitter bit—if you accidently won the lottery and they didn’t because they hadn’t bought a ticket in their entire life. You know the one.

Throw a life threatening disease and a new nice guy relationship which holds promise in the middle of this sort of friendship and you’ve got Trouble (with a capitol T). This is the issue that faces Emily Tuckman as Vanessa, normally exuberant, the life of the party, ready for anything fun, different guy every weekend kind of girl. Her friend is Janie, played by Shannon Altner, as the conservative, go along for the ride, wear sensible shoes, one-guy-at-a-time-once-and-awhile kind of girl. The dynamic of the relationship changes drastically with Vanessa’s diagnosis of cancer.  Her level of neediness changes and it becomes a question of whether or not Janie can meet those needs. In an effort to please Vanessa and to have something to share with her, Janie launches a dating profile and endures a series of hopeless dates to amuse Vanessa with her tales of woe. Until – wait a minute – one of these guys isn’t so bad. So now Janie is out having fun and Vanessa is stuck in the hospital. Will the friendship be able to transcend these new roles? What is the breaking point? Is there any going back? For every person who has had THAT kind of friend, this will be an exploration of loyalty.

Both of these fine actresses bring authenticity to their roles. The dialogue is so true that it feels like two friends just talking and remembering better days. The dialogue is so easy that the ladies occasionally forget that they have people listening and are not talking into microphones. The conversation can get so intimate that those of us in the audience have to strain to hear. But the plot is easy to follow and the dilemma well delineated.

As happens quite often, the lone male in the cast – Damon Guerrasio – gets some of the best bits. Damon plays all the men in both women’s lives – Vanessa’s new but sympathetic doctor, the new boyfriend, the yoga Guru, all the blind dates – with energy and vigor. He brings a smile to our collective faces and hope to our collective hearts.  Every character – no matter how small – has a life of his own.

Seating is VERY limited at DV8 but the atmosphere is lively and welcoming. A fine brew can be had for a shekel or two; the overhead doors are opened for air circulation and everyone wears their masks (except the actors). So a safe fun evening can be had. But hurry – this is a short run.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

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