Monday, April 20, 2009

Theatre: Tales Both Told and Yodelled.

Breakin' Hearts & Takin' Names, written and performed by Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin, Seattle Repertory Theatre, through 10 May.

Through acts of both gods and mortals, the Seattle Rep is running two similar shows at the same time, each featuring two characters. In the big theater is Carrie Fisher and her alter ego Leia Organa, and in the Leo K is Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin. And while I liked the Fisher/Princess Leia show, I really liked this one.

I've talked about these two before. Kevin Kling is a commentator and humorist who shows up on NPR. Simone Perrin is a femme fatale armed with dulcet tones and a deadly accordion. Together, they fight crime!

Well, not crime. But they do make a cool couple. Kling tells stories about his youth his family, and Minnesota, Perrin chimes in on occasion, providing support material, and delivers torch songs and yodeling. Yeah, yodeling. Deal with it.

And the thing is, it feels so much more grounded and realistic than the stories in the other theater. I've never hopped a freight in search of a seafood dinner, nor have I woken up next to a dead Republican, but Kling's storytelling makes the first perfectly feasible and understandable.

The audience at Breakin' Hearts was different, too. A lot less of the older crowd who'd remember Debbie Reynolds. A lot of young people, along with people who have never been in that particular theater before (that is, people who come in the wrong door and then have to move across the entire row to get to their seats). So I'm thinking - either someone has done a great job marketing tickets to unlikely sources, or NPR is a lot more popular with the kids today than I thought.

In any event, the crowd was loud and engaged. They were laughing hard and applauding harder. And this was something I noticed about how we treat storytellers and how we treat musicians. Kling would finish a story and we would all nod or laugh. Perrin would finish a song and we would all applaud. That's kinda irritating for the storyteller, but seems to be the way we engage with the subject matter.

On the down side? Not much. It is a recession show, a small-cast number with talent shipped in from out of state. Saving money on the tip of the theatrical iceberg (the actors) while the (slightly reduced) staff puts as much effort into the production itself as it would normally (the set was hardly minimalist - a nice re-creation of every bar I've been in when I lived in Wisconsin).

But really, Seattle Rep, I'd to see some REP in our Repertory, M'Kay?

End of the day? There are two such shows at the Rep running now, and they're both good, but the one in the smaller theater is the better.

(Yeah, and saying so may make for some uncomfortable backstage meetings between the matinees and the evening shows. So be it).

More later,