Kieran (David Cale) is a horse drawn buggy driver in Central Park, the only one whose carriage is drawn by the dark-coated, light maned Palomino. A young handsome Irishman, he is confident and arrogant, and channels the classy suave of Frank Sinatra by sporting the Fedora he bought at a second hand shop. Not an overly motivated fellow, Kieran harbors dormant ambitions of becoming a writer. Little did he know, a seemingly ridiculous and random proposition by a certain middle aged socialite would eventually put him on that very path.
Marsha was candid in her assessment of his good looks and roguish charming qualities. She explained that she had a friend that would be interested in meeting him. Kieran is not interested until Marsha mentions the money he could make being “pimped out.” And so it began. Vallie was Kieran’s first “date”. She is a soft-spoken, shy widow who seemed just as interested in Kieran’s mind and personality as she was his body. Kieran would go on other dates, but eventually he would grow to truly care about Vallie.
The more time they spend together, the more they slowly slipped into couplehood, trying to forget that this is a “business arrangement”. It is on a trip in Europe that Kieran is overtaken by either his sense of honor, or his own panic that he is indeed falling in love. Intimidated by Vallie’s money and conscious of his own inability to temper his overactive libido, Kieran ends the love affair, disappearing one night.
Kieran does realize his dream of becoming a writer many years later. He offers his journals for publication, detailing his sexcapades in New York and his love affair with an Australian woman named Vallie. In a weird coincidence, the London publisher Edward knows Vallie and balks at publishing the racy memoir. Edward does use the book to come to the states and reconnect with Vallie. And in a Central Park buggy, drawn by a Palomino, he too encounters an opportunity for a love affair of his own.
David Cale’s performance was entertaining, but not completely engrossing. This show left me a bit wanting. I didn’t feel there was a thematic connective tissue to explain the labyrinth of tales I had just experienced. While these seven characters’ lives all intersection at one point of another, it is only after considerable post-show reflection that I glean hints toward identity and redemption as possible themes of the show. Palomino is clearly pro-relationship and pro-woman, but I can’t help but feel like Cale was trying to say something more. For me, there is just something missing that keeps the production and the experience from being complete. I wish I could put my finger on it…
The greatest challenge of doing a “one-man” show is creating time, place and multiple characters in one singular effort – 90 minutes at a time. The initial character of Kieran was the only character that held any depth for me. He is a likable, flawed character who could have easily sustain this one-man show alone.. The other six characters, four of which were women, felt more like the idea or shadow of a personae. The female characters were defined by their sachet. While Cale took pains to vary the accents and texture from one character to the next, he nonetheless possesses a persistent cadence of speech that made each character sound quite similar. I felt the show encountered problems when Cale played the women. The stories themselves were lovely. The writing was quite intelligent, introspective and emotional, but this piece is probably better served as a two person show, one man, one woman.
Palomino, written, directed and performed by David Cale, is currently running through June 6, 2010 at:
Kirk Douglas Theatre
9820 W Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz