BWW Review: KISS ME Explores Interaction & Attraction at Theatre LaB Houston
Following a striking 150 Houston premieres, delivering top-notch, relevant, contemporary theater that spanned a variety of genres to the Houston area, Theatre LaB Houston recently opened their final production: Richard Bean's KISS ME.
KISS ME not only marks the 25th anniversary of Theatre LaB, but is the American premiere of this new and engaging British play. Based on a true story and described as "intimate, provocative, and uniquely Theatre LaB Houston", KISS ME exemplifies precisely what Producing Artistic Director Gerald LaBita articulates as a mission of TLH, "We have explored the major issues of our lives, subjects and ideas that while they may amuse or confuse were to be experienced in a flexible performance space that created an atmosphere of immediacy and participation for actors and audiences alike".
KISS ME is quick-witted, intimate, and focused on the nuance of interaction that takes place between an unconventional pair of forbidden lovers. This play takes advantage of the simple, but effective, creative space--the set consists of only a twin bed, a table, a trunk, and a chair. This open form of set design and staging truly invites the audience members into the play to be a fly on the wall of a rather unconventional affair between actors Calvin Hudson (Man) and Kacie Adams (Woman). The intimate setting is advantageous in that it allows the audience to pick up on even the slightest smile, flicker of hope, or glimmer of attraction between the two ever-developing characters. As the play develops, the audience is able to see the characters' predictable--but entertaining--attraction progress, complicate, and raise the stakes of the story.
Set in post-WWI London, specifically in 1929, KISS ME explores the various ways the losses of war have impacted these two individuals who find themselves struggling to escape lingering guilt and create love where love has been lacking. Limitations are challenged, however, as the age-old adage "All is fair in love and war" comes into play between these two guarded individuals who gradually learn more about their hidden pasts. Through their series of interactions, the characters find themselves further entangled in their uniquely structured situation.
KISS ME dexterously explores expression, repression, the nuance of interaction, the structure of love, and even the meaning of sin in a brisk 70-minute play with only two actors-a commendable feat to say the least. Throughout this play, the audience is able to witness Adams and Hudson portray characters that, set against the aftermath of World War I, appear to be individually fighting their own internal wars.
Theatre LaB Houston opened KISS ME at The Joe Frank Theater on April 25th and will run through May 6th. Performances are Thursday 4/26 at 7:30pm, Saturday 4/28 at 8:00pm, Thursday 5/3 at 7:30pm, Saturday 5/5 at 8:00pm, and Sunday 5/6 at 3:00pm. There will not be any Friday evening performances. Tickets are available online only, through Brown Paper Tickets. KISS ME is being performed at The Joe Frank Theater at Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston, 5601 South Braeswood 77096.
Photography by Scott Lupton.