Prelude to a Kiss
There is no better occasion than the holiday season and the horizon of a new year to experience "Prelude to a Kiss," reminding us to cherish what we have, especially now while we have it.by Christopher Verleger, EDGE
We all wish we could be somebody else, at some point or another, but we don’t necessarily mean that literally.
In 2nd Story Theatre’s endearing, touching production of “Prelude to a Kiss,” Peter, the narrator and hero of this poignant romantic fable by Craig Lucas, discovers that the woman he fell in love with, Rita, has not just changed, figuratively speaking, but has been altogether replaced by another person.
The courtship of Rita (Lara Hakeem) and Peter (David Sackal) is the stuff of dreams. The two meet at a party, click instantly, sparks fly and soon thereafter agree to get married. All goes well until their actual wedding day when a strange Old Man (F. William Oakes) approaches Rita shortly after the ceremony, presumably to wish the couple well, and kisses her on the lips.
From that moment forward, Peter notices something different about Rita. After having complained of chronic insomnia since childhood, she now sleeps through the night uninterrupted; she can’t remember cocktail ingredients, even though she makes her living as a bartender; she speaks of siblings that don’t exist and ask questions about a book she claimed to have read.
Peter voices his concerns to friends and family, but they shrug it off as what life is like before and after marriage. Still, Peter refuses to accept the theory that his soul mate has just up and disappeared, until he remembers the precise moment Rita changed and goes on a mission to locate the Old Man.
We can all relate to a moment in time when we’re taken aback by the unrecognizable behavior of a loved one, but those fleeting incidents are customary and to be expected, hence the whole “for better or worse” clause in matrimony. But sometimes marriage vows alone are not enough, as depicted by Peter’s actions to disregard Rita’s body in search of her soul. Will the essence of Rita suffice, regardless of what’s visible on the surface?
Ed Shea’s smooth, sensitive direction helps the audience grow as fond of this couple as they are of each other. Their tender moments together are simply them, under a spotlight, all aglow with their thoughts and feelings.
Sackal drips with charisma and humility, and Hakeem glistens with elegance and sincerity. The unmistakable chemistry they share makes the adventure of Rita and Peter all the more believable and therefore a welcome indication that romance never goes out of style.
Sackal and Hakeem, however, aren’t the only ones to be commended for the profound feeling of enlightenment illustrated by this play. As the Old Man, Oakes delivers an outstanding, heartrending performance that calls attention to the reflection, fear and recognition commonly associated with the end of one’s life.
There is no better occasion than the holiday season and the horizon of a new year to experience “Prelude to a Kiss,” reminding us to cherish what we have, especially now while we have it.