Friday, March 21, 2008

How? How? Why? Why? Why? - Seattle Repertory Theatre

How? How? Why? Why? Why?
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Tickets and Information
March 13 - April 19, 2008

Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of “How? How? Why? Why? Why?” is an event over seven years in the making, but it is well worth the wait. Playwright and performer Kevin Kling, known nationwide for his contribution as a commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” was originally set to perform his show Baseball, Dogs, and Motorcycles at the Rep in 2001. However, due to a motorcycle accident less than a month before, he was unable to make good on his commitment…until now. Kling has a new story to tell, and it is a fantastic one at that.

The driving force of this play is Kling’s strongest skill: storytelling. Using his life-experience stories, especially his accident and how that has changed his life, Kling weaves together a grand narrative that, though they start with him, contain messages that everyone can walk away with. With the help of Simone Perrin on accordion (because “you can’t go into the Underworld without an accordion,”), vocals, and filling in for other roles in Kling’s massive tale, he reminds the audience that the most potent healing power the human being has is laughter. Paired with serious moments and a couple of tear-jerkers, the audience never loses interest in what Kling has to say and will walk away at the end of the performance in peals of laughter and applause. Simultaneously, though, thinking about the deeper message that has been given to them. Perrin also adds a great deal; her songs summarize what has been said, introduce what will be next, or get the audience laughing again for no other reason than it is needed.

Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin. Photo by Chris Bennion, 2008.

Seattle Repertory Theatre is a good place for Kling to unleash his charm. He and director David Esbjornson have worked well together to create a masterful, if somewhat unorthodox, piece of theater. Esbjornson’s set is wonderful; it creates the proper mood for Kevin to tell his story by making it seem like a comfortable home with tables, chairs, and even cups for the performers to drink out of. Although the technical aspects of the show are somewhat minimal, Jessica Trundy’s lighting and Eric Chappelle’s sound work add intensity to the crucial points and enhance the overall feel.

Although not a typical play, “How? How? Why? Why? Why?” (don’t worry, the name will be explained when you watch it) is highly enjoyable.

Review by Jack Jarden

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