“You don’t hear this kind of talk in the theatre. Let alone a Fringe show.”
No, really. Holy crap. This might be the best Fringe show I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps it was because I went in with absolutely no expectations. I had never even been in Caos on F St before Sunday night’s production of Oral Histories. I knew not one person involved. If I had read the blurb describing what I was going to see, it had been long forgotten. With a complete blank slate, I walked into a show fully expecting nothing. And I was. Blown. Away.
The show begins with Allie Kay delivering lines from a cue card introducing us to the show. The other actors stand behind her and begin throwing out slang terms for oral sex. 68, in all. Had I not been in the room, the moment they announced that number, I would have fully expected myself to shudder and shut down in anger. Reading this on paper would have made everything go red and I would have passed out. It seemed like the kind of thing a teenager would have written in the early 90s.
Except it was hysterical. And that’s when everything got real.
A collection of monologues written and directed by Ward Kay, Oral Histories follows three individuals and the way fellatio/cunnilingus changed their lives. Each story heartfelt, touching, and moving in their own ways, they each come from a place not of “gross out, penis jokes”, but from actual moments of genuine sincerity and heartfelt passion. Not to say there are not a sufficient amount of dirty jokes, mind you. But they are better than your average Larry the Cable Guy potty humor.
Written by Ward Kay
Details and tickets
The first piece, “made me rich”, features Terry Loveman as a man who is hoping to jump onto the cellphone/pornography bandwagon to make it rich. He begins with two great stories of his friends’ paths to riches: one worked hard to make a moderate wealth and the other got a job that offered stocks that exploded. After attempting, with these friends as investors, to take advantage of the “next big thing” (Google Glass), he is left near broke and penniless. It is not until his wife is pleasuring his broke… self… that he is inspired to create something to better mankind, saving himself in the process. Loveman is fantastic as William: the almost-too-sketchy-to-be-likeable protagonist we end up loving. Broad strokes of businessman that almost feel like a live-action PowerPoint show make his bits revoltingly endearing. He is an incredible storyteller.
Next comes the sole tale of cunnilingus this show offers. Samantha Sheahan plays Lisa, whose story has her using oral sex to find Jesus. After an array of youthful flirtations at church camp, she ends up making moves with the coolest boy there. In what could easily turn into a sad tale of disappointment and loss, our heroine finds happiness and religion through the art of the tongue. Sheahan is absolutely amazing as the religion/lust/religion-again struck young woman. Evoking the entirety of the movie “Saved” in one person, she is completely mesmerizing every moment she speaks. When she says “The orgasm is proof that God exists and wants us to be happy”, I almost began to believe. She had me rapt from word one.
A brief intermittent moment brings Allie Kay back on stage. This time, she has lost the cue cards and, it appears, all the anxiety that plagued her initially. Armed with a Whole Foods bag, she takes the audience through a thorough, food-by-food process of how men can make their semen taste better. Despite not touching on the negative effects of alcohol and tobacco, this was an interesting interlude.
The final piece, “saved my life” presents us with Ed (Steve Rosenthal), a man who had dreams of becoming a lawyer. Upon getting to college, he takes up acting to meet a girl. He quickly learns that theatre can be a great place for a straight man, and goes on to take it up as his major. After graduating in the late 60’s with no way of avoiding the draft, he is enlisted to head to Vietnam. I won’t ruin this incredible tale, but it is a doozy.
Ward Kay has revealed that this piece, written a decade ago, was the inspiration for our entire evening. Rosenthal, who at first glance would look like the kind of person you would sooner expect a lesson on woodworking from, gives us the most fascinating performance of the night. Layered with highs and lows I can’t even imagine, he delivers it all with quick humor and wit that totally floored me.
Even the VERY Fringey ghost-lit transitions couldn’t dissuade me from telling you to see this show. If you see no other Fringe shows this year, make your way out to Caos on F for this fantastic piece. It will blow you.
Oral Histories . written and directed by Ward Kay. Starring Allie Kay, Terry Loveman, Samantha Sheahan, and Steve Rosenthal. Reviewed by Christian Sullivan.