by CHRISTINE SARKES SASSEVILLE
MPR storyteller Kevin Kling’s Humanimal offers a funny, touching and sometimes silly evening’s entertainment that blends masterful storytelling and superb musical interludes at Open Eye Theatre’s intimately hip space. Kling’s central theme explores the relationship between humans and the animals they love, drawing inspiration from Jack London’s White Fang, Jacques Cousteau, ancient cultures, pop and classical music and personal experiences. Animal lovers and fans of Kling’s transformative storytelling, which is at the same time funny and profound, will love this show. Throw in charming songstress, Simone Perrin, talented cellists Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney, and collaborator Michael Sommers as Jacques Cousteau (“inventor of the Aqua-lung and the French voiceover”) and theater goers will experience the delight of cleverly crafted stories and music.
During the first act, Kling tells stories focused on relationships with dogs, ponies, taxidermy and cows. The stories blend Kling’s personal experience with overarching human ones and are introduced by music matched to the theme, such as Damned Old Dog by The Roches and Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones. Perrin, Ultan and Kinney give their own interpretations to these songs to support the mood of Kling’s stories. My favorite was Perrin’s shy-girl unleashed rendition of Wild Thing by The Troggs.
The second act is in a sketch comedy format that introduces Kling as host of “Back to Nature with Steve Nature,” a show-within-a-show that is co-hosted by Michael Sommers as Jacques Cousteau. They play out the animal versus human nature themes less successfully than the first act and often lapse into the silly and corny. The humor is still heartfelt and often very funny. Kevin Kling is a true Minnesota original and this show reflects his originality.
Humanimal written by Kevin Kling. Directed by Michael Sommers. August 9 through 18, 2013. Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 East 24th Street Minneapolis. Box Office Hours M-F 10a.m.-4p.m at 612.874.6338. $20 General Admission Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/412324 Email Reservations to firstname.lastname@example.org.