Palomino -- Theater Review

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During a fast-moving 90 minutes, David Cale delivers all an actor can: charm, intersecting planes of time and reality and post-theater impact that shed light on all our lives.

This is Cale's seventh one-actor show, so it's no surprise that the Irishman, combining the diffidence of Will Rogers with boyish Gallic sexuality, handles the genre so effortlessly and professionally, missing hardly a beat throughout the intermission-less evening.

Cale plays a cast of seven characters headed by a laconic Irish Central Park hackney driver whose Palomino horse is the only one in the fleet, thus the play's name. He is in town subbing for a friend who's taken four months off and with whom he might or might not have a relationship.

As Cale tells his marginally believable stories of sexual conquests and introduces the women he supposedly has met, been seduced by and profited from, the women -- a mysterious uptown escort-service operator and the clients she procures for -- begin to share their sides of the story. It's not a momentous story, except to the involved, but it is put together with such provocative imprecision and easy virtuosity that it is involving from beginning to end.

The set is bare except for three chairs and a screen that occasionally flashes the characters' names. Beverly Emmons' crisp lighting works hand-in-glove with Cale to create a stark, ascetic mood and atmosphere that gracefully supports the narrative with an underlying but minimal sense of structure. The outfit in which costume designer Laura Bauer fits Cale -- plaid shirt, jeans and a signature fedora -- achieves maximum flexibility for portraying the masculine and feminine equally and with minimum effort.

By evening's end, after Cale has flashed his last devilish grin, there's no doubt one has met and become intimate with seven very different people, and that the relentless carnival of life we see them portrayed against is the same one in which we live ours.

Venue: Kirk Douglas Theater, Culver City (through June 6)
Playwright-director-performer: David Cale
Set designer: Takeshi Kata
Costume designer: Laura Bauer
Lighting designer: Beverly Emmons
Sound designer: Andre Pluess
Projection designer: Jason H. Thompson
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