The title of writer-performer-director David Cale's solo performance about among other people a horse-drawn carriage driver in Manhattan may refer to the breed of horse that the womanizing driver, named Kieren, is steering. But the story he unfurls could just as easily be called Cougars. The 30-year-old Irish protagonist begins with a reference to his 1940s "come fly with me" fedora, boasting that it all starts with the hat. The man he's filling in for will later hear that reference in a written memoir penned by Kieren, and describe the author as an "asshole." And he's sort of right, but that certainly doesn't make Kieren's story any less engaging. Kieren tells of being approached by a woman named Marsha, who has a business proposition, for giving a "good time" to some female friends of hers, and he certainly gives them a ride. Cale is an unprepossessing yet hypnotic storyteller with a bald pate and slender build that belies the physical attraction his clients see in him. Yet when he leaves Kieren behind, and retells the story from the points of view of the various women whom Kieren seduces, with all their potent observations of his charisma, his sexual style, as well as his romantic inadequacies, the event isn't so much about any one character as it is about a world that's conjured in slices, and how the story is a slow reveal of an ever-more expansive world. This is, in some way, a one-man variation of Brian Friel's Faith Healer, somehow blended into Lady Chatterley's Lover. The piece constantly evokes the knot of romance and lust and commerce that are infinitely fascinating and impossible to untangle. Jason H. Thompson's projections are just perfect in their subtlety, offering a sense of place by being literary rather than literal, which matches many of the subtly embedded images in Cale's story. One recurring motif is a bird one in a painting that's gifted to Kieren, which he later tries to sell; another is a pigeon, captured in Thompson's projection in flight. Not only does the literary/visual image have inexplicable beauty, but it's an emblem for the state of being embodied in all of Cale's characters, and an image for how we all push through life, on a wing and prayer so to speak, with the help and hindrance of the winds. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; through June 6. (213) 628-2772. Center Theatre Group.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Starts: May 7. Continues through June 6, 2010