Underbelly’s Hullabaloo
7-31 August, 20.10

LuckThe audience rolls into the Hullabaloo circus tent to the sound of Sinatra, welcomed by Megan Riordan (“Kim”, as she will be known to us), looking every inch the casino hostess in her black cocktail dress.  Her auburn hair is immaculately curled, she wears a red sash tied round her waist and is holding a tray of “Vegas cheese balls”, which she busily offers around the crowd.

Five green felt tables are laid out at the front of the stage.  Braver members of the audience are encouraged to seat themselves there.  This is Las Vegas…recreated for the Edinburgh festival.

Over the next hour, Kim leads us breathlessly through a performance that includes dance, insider gambling tips, and vivid storytelling.  She expounds the principles of basic strategy for Black Jack.  She tells us about her surreal childhood growing up in Vegas, where the only connection she had with her father “Max” was when she helped him to scam casinos with her “Uncle Jimmy”.

Luck, we are informed, does not exist.  Only chance.  And this is the wonderful conceit behind the show.  Through a combination of roulette, dice and even a coin toss, it is the audience seated at those front tables who determine the topics that Kim will cover next.  Just like a hand of black jack, this show has a near infinite number of possible outcomes.

Riordan has a strange magnetism that makes you want to listen, and her (slightly) ageing beauty adds another layer of meaning to her anecdotes about the superficial nature of Vegas.  Although the deliberate lack of structure can be frustrating, for the most part this is a highly enjoyable, inventive piece of theatre.

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