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Palomino by David Cale – Kirk Douglas Theater – Los Angeles Theater Review

 

THE FINE ART OF WEAVING A SPELL

 

picture - Palomino - David Cale - Kirk Douglas Theater - photo by Craig SchwartzTheater Review

by Harvey Perr 

published May 18, 2010 

 

Palomino

now playing in Los Angeles at The Kirk Douglas Theater  

through June 6 

 

David Cale is not just a master storyteller. What he does is weave a tapestry out of words and images, become the many characters, male and female, who are involved, and, in the process, take them (and us) on the journey of discovering how one part of the tapestry is woven into another.  It is intricate work, but Cale is so off-handed and casual going about it that it seems like child’s play.

 

picture - Palomino - David Cale - Kirk Douglas Theater - photo by Craig SchwartzIn his newest tale, Palomino, Kieren is a devilishly handsome Irish immigrant driver of a horse-drawn carriage who takes his passengers – mostly swooning women – through Central Park. Cale himself is as ordinary looking a chap as ever you’re likely to come across, balding and plain, but just watch him stretch himself out and place his Frank Sinatra-like fedora on his head with a rakish tilt and see how quickly he becomes Colin O’Farrell. Cale can just as easily become the women in Kieren’s life after he is encouraged to take advantage of the seven good years he has left in order to become a well-paid male escort. And, oddly enough, none of Cale’s characters ever drift off into stereotype. One of his women, Vallie, is so richly and compassionately drawn that it becomes clear that the twists and turns Cale takes are not meant to get the stories on a track that will be easier to ride but rather to take us deeper into the souls of his people. Even Kieren does not do what we expect him to do. Without divulging too much – because so much of the evening’s pleasures is the direct result of watching the tale unfold – when you think it is over, a whole new textural strand is ready to be woven into the tapestry, one which brings us up to date, and an encounter which turns out to be the most delightful of all.

 

The production is as simple as Cale’s approach to storytelling. Three chairs, some projections, interesting sounds and Beverly Emmons’s elegant lighting: it’s all Cale needs. If you have never been privy to the art of gentle persuasion or to the magical world of being told a story by someone you love – and even if you have – a trip to the Kirk Douglas is essential. In Palomino, Cale has not lost his edge, but, if there is any truth to Cale’s fear that he might have done just that, what he has gained in its stead is wisdom, quiet wit, humanity and depth of understanding. But the edge is there, too.

 

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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