Heads-up, by Marie-Antoinette
— Review of the play Lucky Guy, Broadhurst Theatre, 2013 —
Beware of the columnist
My second assignment as a theatre columnist was to go to
the forty-fourth street of Manhattan and see a play there, entitled Lucky Guy.
For my previous assignment, I had tried my best to review the show incognito. I looked again, yesterday,
throughout the day and my garderobe, for the simplest costume made of the plainest fabric. I stared at myself
in the mirror successively dressed as a shy shepherdess, a laborious dairymaid and even an arrogant bourgeoise,
until it dawned on me that if I was going to be gazed at, it might as well be as the Queen of France.
Night finally fell and, as I walked through Times Square, the crowd parted to let me pass, my shimmering silver dress
echoing the pulsating lights of the city, reflecting its glitter in the mesmerized looks following me. The excitement
progressively swelled, and I suppose I would have eventually been crushed by the flow of people if I had not blinded them.
Things became more civilized once I reached the Broadhurst Theatre. The only trouble I had there was to walk to my seat
without smothering with my dress the people sitting along the row. I managed to sit down after quite a struggle, keeping as
much panache as I could since the whole theatre was staring at me. Many courtiers were still peeping at me even after the show
had started, at least until one of its actors, presumably the Lucky Guy, joined the others on stage and was loudly cheered.
Then it seems like everyone forgot about me – everyone but the unlucky guy who was sitting behind me,
behind my high headdress and its fluffy feathers.
Lucky Guy tells the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of a journalist, Mike McAlary. It is a play about an ambitious
columnist pretending to be an honest journalist in New York in the late twentieth century. Or is it more of an ambitious column
pretending to be the latest play in New York in an honest twenty-first century?
The show resembles indeed far more a newspaper than a play. The actors address the audience more often than their partners, haranguing
people in the theatre the same way columnists exhort their readers. The dramaturgy is as patched as the page of a newspaper, as
contradictory as its headlines, as kaleidoscopic in its views. Even the scenography imitates the appearance of a newspaper, being composed
with mobile props swiftly gliding on a blank stage, intermittently disrupted by screens on which headlines and pictures are projected.
That is the most remarkable quality of the play, and it might also be its most blatant weakness despite the skillful audacity of its author,
Nora Ephron. As for the main actor, a man called Tom Hanks, I was quite puzzled by the hysteria his mere appearance on stage and his
reasonable performance aroused in the audience.
But after all, who am I to say so, and to write this? Just another columnist and, furthermore, a beheaded one. Yes, this is just another
column, one written by a queen who lost everything but a grudge against columnists. The truth, if there is any, is that I would rather see theatre
be a pastiche of journalism than journalism be a pastiche of theatre. I had my share of libelists trying to keep the attention of their readers
by entertaining them with heroes and scapegoats or, as Mike McAlary would have said, with good guys and bad guys.