Don't Know Much About History
The History of Kisses
Kansas City Repertory Theatre
David Cale enthralled Kansas City audiences in the 2009 world premiere of Palomino at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. His engaging storytelling turned a one-man show into a stage teeming with interesting characters.
Now, with The History of Kisses, Cale is back with a similar format, this time a series of stories by the sea. Eric Southern's set fills the Copaken Stage with sand, and a rock here and there and a beach chair complete the surroundings. Andre Pleuss provides sounds of the sea, gulls crying, foghorns. One could question whether all this is necessary; if Cale says we are by the sea, that is enough to make us believe.
The show opens with Cale singing a sea shanty with the chorus, "Raise your anchor 'cause it's time to set sail." He takes the audience on a voyage, beginning with the story of Lisa, whose divorce spurs her to "take my smashed up little heart" to Portugal where a passionate kiss--a kiss that "could have had its own zip code"--by the sea changes life forever.
The story shifts to Lisa's friend, a writer, staying in a motel by the sea to hide away and write "The History of Kisses." His efforts are stalled--or, perhaps, furthered--by the sounds of a couple next door making love; in the room on the opposite side, a late-blooming sea song writer practicing for a festival; and a sexy Australian desk clerk named Craig scoring with all the women at the beach. We learn all their stories and a few more, swept into the current as lives unfold and intersect.
Cale is carried away by the tide of his characters, becoming not just a man standing on a stage reciting lines, but a series of individuals, male and female, of varying accents and backgrounds. Each character becomes a person and an interesting one.
"Aim for beauty," says the singer of sea songs, a man who began singing at the age of 50 after 35 years in the Royal Navy. Cale has done so, and will leave audience members a bit more aware of the beauty of relationships and the eternal power of the sea.
The History of Kisses runs about 90 minutes without an intermission. The show continues through November 27.