PRELUDE TO A KISS at CustomMade charming but flawed

Nick Trengove as Peter in Prelude to a Kiss

PRELUDE TO A KISS: Comedy/Fantasy by Craig Lucas. Directed by Stuart Bousel. CustomMade Theatre Company, Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough Street, San Francisco. 415-798-2682 or May 21- June 16, 2013

PRELUDE TO A KISS at CustomMade charming but flawed

The intimate CustomMade three sided stage is awash with blue clouds and a symbolic tree of life anchored with a full set of roots soaring to the full height of the theatre in front of a screen for projection of moving clouds. It is a perfect setting for Craig Lucas’s 1988 Pulitzer Prize finalist Prelude to a Kiss. The title is taken from a Duke Ellington torch song and is an affirmation of life for the young and old. You will leave the theatre with a warm glow.

Protagonist; Peter (Nick Trengove) must share that classification with his true love(s) Rita (Allison Page) and Old Man (adorable leprechaun like Richard Wensel).  Peter is working in the digital world in a dead-end job of converting microfilm to miniscule discs. Rita is a bar-tender and a political socialist who is afraid of life and has no desire to bring children into the world. The adage is “opposites attract” and so it is with Lucas’s lovers. After a three month whirlwind affair they marry. At the wedding a strange Old Man purloins a kiss from the bride and they have an ethereal exchange of their souls.

The fateful Kiss of Rita and the Old Man

Peter kisses Old Man/ who has Rita’s inner soul

On their honeymoon in the Caribbean the formerly reticent Rita has a complete change of personality and now espouses living life to the fullest “Just take things as they come and enjoy them – that’s what life is for.”  She now has a great desire to bear children. Peter wondering what has happened finally deduces that the kiss from the Old Man was responsible. When he tracks down the Old Man who now has all the inner traits of his beloved Rita, he falls in love again. It is Lucas, who is openly gay, is telling us that love can bloom no matter what the physical forms of the lovers are. He emphasizes that point with a passionate kiss between the Old Man/Rita and Peter.

In act 1 the relationship between much too voluble and one-dimensional Nick Trengove and Allison Page in the lead roles does not ignite the spark necessary to do justice to Lucas’s dialog. That being said, the quality of their acting in the second act had sufficiently improved to give a warm ending to the evening. The supporting cast of Will Leschber, Charles Lewis III, Jan Carty Marsh, Elena Ruggiero and Dave Sikula were competent with Leschber’s small part deserving accolades. Running time under two hours with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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