59E59 Theater welcomes Red Lion Theatre and Cracking Up Productions to their 2011 Brits Off Broadway Festival with Kissing Sid James. Written by Robert Farquhar and directed by Jason Lawson, Kissing Sid James is the story of Eddie and Crystal. Two downtrodden lonely hearts, they spend a weekend together in an English seaside town and look to discover if there is such thing as “the one.” Kissing Sid James opened this week and runs through January 1.
Overall, Kissing Sid James was a good production. Farquhar delivered an ending that was counterintuitive to what I was expecting and therefore thoroughly satisfying. The audience was so invested in the story that when the first reference to Sid James was mentioned in Act I, everyone in the audience had their smart phones out and were talking to each other about Sid James and his relevance to the show by intermission. Although the argument could be made that Sid James was a little random of a reference for an American audience, Farquhar had the audience talking. The performance lived up to the work as well, helping to unify the audience further.
Charlotte McKinney did a terrific job bringing dimensionality to the role of “Crystal,” a character that could easily come off as a bedazzled pop tart by a lesser actor. Although to no fault of the actress, most if not all of her costumes were shortened to distraction. During Act I, the thought crossed my mind more than once if the actress was going to catch cold.
Alan Drake did a superb job with the role of “Eddie.” He found wonderful warmth in this modern-day Willie Loman. I cannot remember a performance that produced an audible gasp, once the character’s outcome was revealed. Drake was truly the production’s stand out.
The production had some technical issues. For example, the transitional blackouts were entirely too long - especially for a matinee. I could count the amount of heads that dropped as each blackout got progressively longer. The show overall could have been tighter.
If you have a chance, check out Kissing Sid James as a part of 59E59 Theater’s “Brits Off Broadway” festival. Although the production is technically not the tightest show on the face of the earth, Farquhar’s work unites an audience in an exciting way that I haven’t seen in the theater for a while. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or go to www.59E59.org.