Is it possible that one man is just plain, out-of-the park lucky? Are 20 years of double or nothing wins just a streak? Is a coin flip gone bad all that separates the winners and losers?
For Theo, dubbed Time Magazine’s Luckiest Man Alive, its luck. It’s always been luck. And for two decades of double or nothing Super Bowl coin toss challenges, he’s never lost a flip.
Heads? Tails? Make the lucky call, luck rules his toss.
Or does it?
In Arun Lakra’s edge-of-your seat, high stakes thriller, “Sequence,” the third show of the Adirondack Theatre Festival summer season, four actors are duking it out for the supremacy of their philosophies on luck. Is luck dictated by randomness, by science, a mathematical equation, or religion?
And after placing an $850 million double or nothing bet on a hunch, Theo’s lucky streak has him desperately wanting to be unlucky in this game of big money, big stakes and perhaps fatal consequences.
“It’s a very good play. It’s very thought-provoking and by the end you’ll probably say, ‘I’ve got to see that again,’” said Margaret Reed, (FX’s, “The Americans”, NBC’s, “The Blacklist” and ABC’s, “Deception”), playing the blind Dr. Guzman, who believes she has discovered the gene for luck. “By the end of the play, like the double helix of the DNA, all these things are intertwined and you find out things about the characters at the very end … and you’ll say, ‘oh, if I knew that at the very beginning, now I’ve got to see it again.’ “
“Sequence” directed by Marshall Pailet, (Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat, Loch Ness), who returns for his third consecutive year at the Adirondack Theatre Festival, opens Tuesday at the Charles R. Wood Theater in downtown Glens Falls. It runs through Saturday, July 27, with a matinee on Wednesday.
“It’s fast talking, it’s very funny its very dramatic with just a little bit of murder,” said Pailet. “We are the only non-musical of the season. We don’t have songs, we don’t have dance, we don’t have flashing lights. What we have is amazing actors amazing words.”
During rehearsal at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls last week, it wasn’t clear why Theo, played by Bob D’Haene (Off-Broadway: Baghdaddy), has a gun or what’s in his locked briefcase. And why he is intently talking with Cynthia, who seems to be frantically calculating mathematical equations related to his two-decade lucky streak, claiming she’s figured it out.
The two crouch to the ground. Theo flips the coin. Heads.
“Thank God,” Cynthia said.
“Thank God for heads?” Theo said.
“I knew it, Fibonacci, schmibinacci, your guesses are completely random,” Cynthia said. “It was inevitable. Sooner or later you were bound to diverge. People don’t just randomly roll mathematical sequences, it caught up with you. On your 21st time, finally.”
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“You seem pretty happy about that,” Theo said.
“Well I was starting to wonder. I mean what if it came up tails? What would this mean that all of your picks have come from somewhere else?” Cynthia asked.
“From God?” Theo responded.
With all paths leading back to Theo and his highly publicized two decades-long lucky streak, a staggeringly unlucky man, Mr. Anderson, played by Doug Plaut (TV: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Daredevil”, “Vice Principals”) believes his 150 consecutive wrong test answers are proof of a higher power.
This mind-blowing, award-winning drama will leave audiences wondering whether luck is coincidence, divine intervention, or if its built into our DNA.
“These four characters each represent different philosophical viewpoints,” said Pailet. “And they’re all debating this question of how important is luck ... you have these various viewpoints and while on the surface seems like characters arguing viewpoints, their lives are at stake. And they are all desperate to understand how they can get better luck.”
Written by Canadian playwright and ophthalmologist Arun Lakra, “Sequence” has already taken Canada by storm, winning the Alberta Playwriting Competition, Joanne Woodward/Paul Newman Award for Drama, Calgary Theatre Critics Award, Betty Mitchell Award and Gwen Pharis Ringwood Drama Prize.
Additionally, it has placed as a finalist for STAGE (Scientists, Technologists, and Artists Generating Exploration) International Script Competition, long-listed for James Tait Black Prize for Drama and was also shortlisted for New American Voices Competition.
In a twist, Pailet has 16 audience members seated on the stage with the actors.
“I’m super excited. We have some onstage audience seating. It takes place in a lecture hall and to my knowledge it’s the first time there has ever been audience on stage in the history of ATF so we’re really excited about that,” said Pailet, adding that ticket holders can pick the stage for their seating when buying tickets.
“The actors will be in front of the audience and sometimes they will be writing on boards around them so the audience will literally be immersed in this auditorium lecture hall,” Pailet said. “But it’s not interactive. The actors never touch them or look at them or ask them to do anything. It’s just close up.”
Reed said the only time she had the experience of the audience seated on the stage was in high school.
“I was in Alice in Wonderland and we had the whole audience on stage,” she said. “Its really cozy there’s a certain bonding that you have with an audience anyway because you are all in a big room. Having them sit that close it will be a whole different experience than for the people sitting in the real audience.”
Pailet added that theater is uniquely the actors, the audience and the story.
“So you are watching together,” he said. “If you have an audience on the stage, you are unable to forget this is a communal experience, because you are watching people watch ... So I feel like it is this super unique thing you can only do in live theater that the audience becomes part of the experience.”
The production team includes Scenic Design by Paul dePoo, Lighting Design by Chelsie McPhilimy, Costume Design by Jolene Richardson, and Sound Design by Brandon Reed.
Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.