Fringe NYC 2015
How You Kiss Me Is Not How I Like To Be Kissed will make you want to go out and fall in love. And if you already are, it will make you reflect on what you have and excite you for the future.
How You Kiss Me Is Not How I Like To Be Kissed was perfectly presented. The venue was an apartment in SoHo, obviously donated for the Fringe’s needs, and that was exactly where this story should be told. The play could easily be re-staged in a black box; the set-up is very simple: two actors, one piano and accompanist, no set, a few lights. But doing so, I think, might take away some of its inherent charm. This play is served by its simplicity, which grabbed us from the start and never let us go.
The two actors (Olivia Lemmon and Jacob Brandt) playing X and Y would have been gratification enough for the price of admission. They both exuded such magnetism and grace that they were impossible not to root for. The story itself is one that’s frequently told, but rarely so realistically. That’s not to say it’s not theatrical. But even the most unexpected events are entirely believable when presented with the truth and power that they are here.
X and Y take us through their budding relationship from their first kiss (which she doesn’t like) to meeting her friends (which he doesn’t like) and beyond (I don’t want to give too much away, but you can probably guess some of the milestones). From the start, it’s a recognizable story, but you can almost hear the audience pleading “Please, please, don’t let this go south. Just let them be happy!” Of course, without a conflict, the evening would be terribly short, and when the conflict comes, it is heavy.
The actors rarely touch, but rather interact through a physical vocabulary that is as beautiful as it is communicative. Every piece of this performance serves the larger whole: the movement is gorgeous, the words are engaging, the actors are phenomenal, and the music is necessary. Daniel Erickson plays transitional music and accompaniment with ease, but really solidifies his necessity by watching the show with as much intent wonder as any member of the audience.
Olivia Lemmon shines as her complex, familiar, and multi-talented character. Whether she’s intellectually deconstructing an argument with incredible pace or stealing the audience’s heart with the show’s stunning mid-show ballad, Olivia’s performance is divine. Jacob Brandt also offers a great deal of emotional availability, which leads to some of the show’s more touching moments. When he suffers, you suffer. Dan Giles should be vigorously applauded for such masterful writing. He’s given both actors and audiences a wonderful gift.