Last Tuesday we went to Trafalgar Studios to see “Dealer’s Choice,” following a fine review from the West End Whingers. I dragged along my usual co-conspirator J. as well as Wechsler, figuring a play about poker would be a guaranteed win for an occasionally less-than-enthusiastic theatrical attendee. (J was of course as excited about going as I was.)
Dealer’s Choice is a perfect boy/girl date show, much like the movie Grosse Pointe Blank. The normal “ooh, ick, we’re in the theater” is overcome by the macho atmosphere of poker playing. Well, that’s a fair description, because what this is is, simply, a great play. Set half in the kitchen and dining room of a restaurant and half in its basement (where the after the interval poker game takes place), Dealer’s Choice is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story with a really interesting cast of characters (a la Ocean’s Eleven). I have to give credit to the great cast and the great writing – there were no minor characters in this play (a real contrast to another “all men” drama, Glengarry Glen Ross, in which every character seemed to talk in the same voice). The poker game becomes a power play between the different characters, and watching them attempt to psyche each other out and figure out each other’s weaknesses sucked me right in, even though my knowledge of gambling is paltry. (Amusingly, the cards played during the show matched exactly what the characters said they’d been dealt – quite a feat of stagecraft in my book.)
At any rate, at £21 per ticket (easily available at half price if you buy online), Dealer’s Choice was a great play and a great night out. I highly recommend it.