The Lucky Spot, Blue Collar Players, at Lilly’s Bar. While Lilly’s, the venerable Lincoln Park piano bar, could never be called bleak or depressing, its eclectic decor provides the perfect setting for an imaginative debut production of Beth Henley’s The Lucky Spot, a bittersweet comedy set in a Depression-era back-country bar of the deep south. Characterized less by artsy embellishment than by its inventive use of the space, Kimberly Forsyth’s staging takes the action around the horseshoe bar, up the stairs to a balcony (from which we hear the actors’ voices and footfalls), and even out into the street, to the surprise of pedestrians–especially since the fiery Sue Jack chases an unfortunate comrade with a shotgun, that she wields like a club.

The results may not be subtle in any Stanislavskian sense–there’s no room for nuance when actors and audience are barely an arm’s length apart–but the gritty optimism of Henley’s quirky vision and the Blue Collar Players’ vigorous performances overcome the technical obstacles (late arrivals walking across the “stage,” for example) to win us over completely.

“Some people like to fall down,” declares wise fool Turnip at one point. “Keeps them from ever having to stand on their own feet.” Though stumbling a bit on opening night, the sturdy-legged Blue Collar Players should soon hit their stride.

–Mary Shen Barnidge