Lucky Guy by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron deceased at the age of 71 in June last year and at a time when she was writing her third play, Lucky Guy. There were prior notions circulated that she died of colon cancer. She had managed to make a name for herself following the amazing creation of hit movies before her demise. She began her career in the movie industry by being a journalist and won her fame as a screenwriter. Lucky Guy was well-received from critics and the public alike. Nora Ephron excelled at presenting a character who seemed flawed but endearing. She had developed an incredible love of this work, as well for these characters: their dangerous, reckless, functional madness. Lucky Guy is a play that is filled with the shock of heightened romanticism. There also exists cynicism in the play in the pretense: it is about doing a heroic deed and underneath hoping that it will be heroic. The play is about the life of Mike McAlary between 1985 to 1998 as he shifts from one city newsroom of New York City. George C. Wolfe, the drama director, talks about the tribulations and trials of the real-life tabloid journalist Mike McAlary. He begins with a group of hard-boiled New York City reporters who are singing an old Irish song in a bar.

George C. Wolfe’s direction is flawless and in complete harmony with Ephron’s script. The story is told largely as a narration with the cast keeping the viewers aware of the action as the story unfolds. Director George C. Wolfe captures the exuberant atmosphere of this world through what might be called tabloid staging, which is punchy, fast, blunt and with characters talking directly to the audience (Broadway, 2013). By the characters conversing directly with the audience, they create a familiar and an inclusive sensibility, and the spacing of these interactions is rhythmically satisfying, driving the entire production. Wolfe takes care to keep the momentum building with design aesthetic supporting this effectively, yet with minimalism.

The play would otherwise have been better if snippets of conversation had been used coupled with more craft into the plot, and being offered up in what feels like mini talk-backs – staged as part of the show and not after it. There is a joyful competition, a brawl, and lots of testosterone in the play, as it tells the story of the ambitious and arrogant McAlary, who rose to fame and success in the 1980s and 1990s until a drastic misstep over what he called a trumped-up rape nearly brought him to ruin (Komisar, 2013). He redeemed himself by breaking the sensational case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, whose ugly brutalization at the hands of police led to four convictions.

Scott Lehrer is the sound designer for Lucky Guy. He and David Rockwel, the scenic designer are seen to collaborate perfectly to create sound drama. The introduction of characters is underplayed with soft music. The music later turns unnecessary afterwards when the characters indulge in direct contact with the audience and this effectively creates testosterone and comedic imbalances. Nora Ephron, through the help of costume designers, manages to bring forth a distinct but descent style of explaining the problems encountered by journalists. The tribulations and hardships of tabloid journalists is well seen in their dressing.

The sheer talent of the artists on-and-off the stage is evident throughout the performance and Ephron’s script is as charming as ever. Passion is contagious, and Ephron’s love and respect of journalism is worthy of our attention. Everyone who is telling the story has a vested stake in how their story is told. Their ego, identity, career are invested in the phenomenon of this guy and there’s an inherent theatricality in that.

Komisar, L. (2013) The Imaginary Cursing Woman in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy” Retrieved from:<> on: 04 June 2013.
Lucky Guy: Retrieved from: < >on: 04 June 2013.