Lucky Numbers

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

10/07/2009 - 01/08/2009

Production Details

Shake off the winter blues with a damn good giggle!  

Imagine …..Your mother/grandmother won 8 million dollars in lotto! You’d definitely be in the running to get some cash to splash? Right? But how would you feel if the old coot refused to even cash in the ticket unless you made some serious changes? 

What wouldn’t we do, given half a chance, for eight million bucks?

This is the premise for Lucky Numbers by Mike Yeaman.

Connie (Nana) sees her family falling apart. She just wants, from the wisdom of age, to steer them in the right direction. If only they would tidy up their act a bit, then they would be happier.

When she wins big in the lottery, she deliberately leads them to believe that the ticket is hidden/ lost/ given away to encourage them to make changes for the better.

But they don’t want to change. They just want to find the ticket!!

Lucky Numbers is a full length, two act comedy/farce for seven characters set entirely in a living room. It won the People’s Choice Award in Newcastle (UK) 2007. This Biannual competition finds a fresh play out of the North-East emerging writers. The chosen playwright gets his play showcased on a professional stage. Lucky Number‘s playwright, Mike Yeaman has been writing on & off for some years. He writes successfully for Radio 4 in the UK & has been patronized to create pilots for radio & television including interactive web projects for Channel 4.

Friday July 10 – Saturday Aug 1

Tues 6pm
Wed – Thurs 7.30 pm
Sunday 4 pm

Fortune Theatre:  477 1693


Connie:  Louise Petherbridge
Janice:  Julie Edwards
Mick:  Aaron Alexander
Ronnie:  Jason Ward Kennedy
Lisa:  Esther Rose Green
Shane:  Daniel Armstrong
Steven:  Samuel Irwin

Stage Manager:  Bek Sherrat
Set Design:  Matt Best
Costume Design:  Mary Anne Wright Smyth
Lighting Design:  Phillip Dexter
Sound Design:  Bex De Prospo/ Ross Jolly
Sound & Lighting Operator:  Alan Penno
Props:  Bek Sherrat/ Brendan van den Berg
Fight Choreographer:  Alan Henry
Graphic Design:  Marti Rowe
Photographer:  Victor Jarque 

Cheerfully funny little number at the Fortune

Review by Barbara Frame 15th Jul 2009

At this time of year the Fortune Theatre likes to help us beat the winter blues by putting on a broad-spectrum crowd-pleaser.

This year’s is Lucky Numbers. When resident grandmother Connie’s lottery ticket wins $20 million, her family plans its luxurious future: holidays, new clothes, an end to boring jobs (and maybe some new furniture to replace their screaming 70s stuff). There’s just one problem though: the ticket, which Connie, who’s 82 and doesn’t have the world’s best memory, assures everyone is in a secret but safe place.

Mike Yeaman’s family sitcom, directed by Ross Jolly and with its location seamlessly transferred from its native Newcastle to Dunedin, tracks the mystery of the missing ticket. It’s cheerfully funny rather than downright hilarious, and, as we try to follow the progress of a significant-looking piece of yellow paper, less suspense-laden than we might expect. Tension sometimes gives way to tedium, and there is a tiresome amount of hiding and eavesdropping behind the furniture.

The characters, although shallow, are an interesting lot. Mother Janice (Julie Edwards) hankers for romance while father Ronnie (Jason Ward Kennedy) is good at management jargon, if not actual work. Teenage daughter Lisa (Esther Rose Green) favours Gothic over Glassons, and son Steven (Samuel Irwin) is overweight and sneaker-obsessed.

Vain neighbour Mick (Aaron Alexander) wears out his welcome, and Lisa’s tough boyfriend Shane (Daniel Armstrong) makes an unexpectedly good impression on Connie. Connie herself – lovable, exasperating and sly, as stage grandmothers tend to be – is played to perfection by Louise Petherbridge, one of Dunedin’s living theatrical treasures. 
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Review by Terry MacTavish 13th Jul 2009

The Fortune should be gloating over its timing with this production choice, for the recent largest-ever NZ Lotto win has set many Kiwis to pondering what they would do with the life-changing millions. 

Most will have applauded the calm good sense of the actual winners, who "just want to be comfortable."  But it certainly makes for more entertainment to watch the cast of Lucky Numbers go into a ludicrous tail-spin, when the neglected Nana of the family wins a cool twenty million.  

A miserably dysfunctional family, showered with unimaginable wealth, would doubtless self-destruct within weeks.  And when we first meet it, Nana Connie’s family is indisputably dysfunctional.  Her daughter Janice is unhappily (and unfaithfully) married to an idle layabout, with an overweight son who bids fair to turn out a replica of his father, and a dim-witted Goth daughter.

Nana, teetering on the verge of senility, is treated at best with tolerance, at worst with contempt, so long as she has no money.  But Nana is more astute than senile, and when she realises her lucky numbers have actually won, she comes up with a cunning plan designed to reform rather than ruin the family.


This is author Mike Yeaman’s first play, but he cut his teeth writing for television comedy shows (including one of my favourites, Smack The Pony, which showcases the skills of three very funny women), and he knows just how to make the most of a comic opportunity. 

Nana’s gentle dottiness reveals itself in mostly inoffensive ways, like her constant pop-outs to the dairy for yet another un-needed loaf of bread, and her spreading of the table, not with a cloth, but a Simpsons-character duvet. 

More farcical situations are happily exploited by the proficient cast, under Ross Jolly’s direction, as family members literally fall over themselves and each other, first to find the apparently misplaced ticket, then to please wily old Nana.  The good old classic chase and hiding routines, complicated by the presence of Janice’s loser of a lover, and her daughter’s Goth boyfriend, are carried out with enthusiasm, and received with hilarity. 

Meanwhile on a deeper level, we are invited to consider the power of money and the status it bestows.  This too is timely, in a world where money and security are scarcer, yet extraordinary fortunes have been amassed through the internet, focusing our attention on the responsibility of wealth, and its ability to effect positive change in the world.  Just what Nana is after.  (As well as salmon for Tuppence, of course.)

The British play is smoothly adapted to New Zealand, with many local references, and the particularly successful gambit of giving Nana a cosy North of England accent, while the rest of the cast are clearly second-and third-generation New Zealanders.

Woolly hatted Nana is a delightful character, and Louise Petherbridge is just perfect in the role.  With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, and wickedly infectious chuckle, she quickly has the audience on her side.  As Nana, Petherbridge teases us as well as her family – just how demented is she really?  Given her independent mind and salty tongue, it is possible to suspect many of her apparent lapses are completely intentional.  With positive glee, for instance, she mistakes the Mohawk hairdo of the Goth boyfriend for a parrot.  "Who’s a pretty boy then? Make sure he doesn’t crap on your leathers."

As daughter Janice, Julie Edwards gives a great lead to the rest of the cast, so convincing as a dispirited housewife that it is tempting to blame her, rather than excellent set designer Matt Best, for the decor and blinding floral orange carpet.

She is well supported by Jason Ward Kennedy as her lazy husband, and Aaron Alexander as her ineffectual love-interest, these three experienced actors demonstrating that you don’t have to be a youngster to pull off frenzied farce.

The young actors, however, do acquit themselves well. Samuel Irwin and Daniel Armstrong provide an amusing contrast as couch-potato grandson and gawky Goth boyfriend respectively, while Esther Green, as the loopy granddaughter, revels in a gorgeous little scene, when she is forced to change her boots and holey green tights for a Glassons outfit and wobbly high heels.  (Clever costumes designed by Maryanne Wright Smyth.)

Lucky Numbers, winner of Britain’s prestigious People’s Play Award, is a happy choice for Fortune’s winter season, with its mix of funny lines, farcical action, likeable characters, and comic twists in a relevant plotline that is sure to appeal.  It neatly exemplifies the old adage: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."  Better still, she who just might pay the piper must be treated with even more respect!
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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