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Kissing Sid James

Robert Faquhar's play about an ill-fated fling teeters between the delightful and the mundane. logo
Charlotte McKinney and Alan Drake
in Kissing Sid James
(© Carol Rosegg)
Like the ill-fated fling it depicts, Robert Farquhar's Kissing Sid James, now at 59E59 Theaters, teeters between the delightful and mundane.

The show opens promisingly with an endearingly awkward offstage phone call between Eddie (Alan Drake) and Crystal (Charlotte McKinney), where an apology turns into an invitation to a seaside weekend getaway. The stage is dark, and we only hear their voices over the speakers, adding to the oddness of the moment. What follows are a series of scenes mainly in a dank hotel room that is far from the "exclusive" one Eddie promises Crystal.

It's clear from the moment they walk onstage, that these two don't have much chemistry. He stands stiffly in the corner while she lies out on the bed. Her desire to have him join her is less about him than her basic need for a warm-bodied connection. At one point, she even gets him to roleplay being Sean Connery. Drake's accent is amusing and McKinney has a magnetism that conveys both Crystal's loneliness and spark.

Eddie has his quirks, too. His emotional aloofness leads to a number of farcical moments, including a great one when he fumbles with the lights trying to set the mood for what turns out to be a hysterically bizarre (and brief) roll in the hay. While knocking boots, he unconsciously begins reciting sports stats, which build in detail as he edges closer to climaxing. Crystal is unsurprisingly weirded out by this and tries to get him to stop, but he can't help it.

After that, it's a downhill slide into act two and the dissolution of their relationship. While Farquhar has an ear for quirky comedic moments, he stumbles when he tries to tackle more serious ones. Large sections of the second act feel like boilerplate melodrama as Eddie and Crystal rehash arguments men and women have been having for centuries.

Director Jason Lawson keeps the play moving at a good clip but seems caged in by Theater C's tiny stage. Perhaps most problematically, the end of the first act seems like the end of the play, and there aren't many moments in the second act to justify its existence.

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