Smooching & Slashing: Anatomy of a First Kiss
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
November 11, 2012
Smooching & Slashing: Anatomy of a First Kiss is a solo storytelling show/play by Robert Weinstein about—well, exactly what its title promises. The smooching is obvious, I guess: this is a story of a boy's first kiss, at the age of 13 or thereabouts. The slashing probably needs a bit of explanation, and that explanation is what gives this show much of its particular charm.
Young Rob was, you see, a huge horror movie buff. From a very tender age, he tells us, the excesses of slasher flicks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre held a special place in Rob's heart. The reason is two-fold: first, these films were a pleasure that he shared with his Dad, and second ... actually, I'm going to leave the second part for you to discover yourself at the show.
The horror afficionado in Rob very much informed the nascent romantic he eventually became, and that's why Smooching and Slashing are the key ideas here. The play takes us deeply into the mind of this growing adolescent, filled with fears and anxieties as he tries to find the answer to why people like to kiss in the first place. The script is surprisingly intimate as Weinstein relives what must be some painful (if, in retrospect, sometimes comical) memories about growing up as a bit of an outsider.
The writing and the performance are exquisite, nicely balancing self-effacing humor and teenage angst to paint a touching, compelling, and authentic portrait of growing up in the suburbs in the '80s. Weinstein is abetted by four actors who provide (mostly) offstage voices of other characters in the show, and by director Chet Siegel, who helps maintain a taut, swift pace.
Smooching & Slashing is Weinstein's first solo show at the Magnet (he's been involved in other theater endeavors including serving as one of nytheatre.com's reviewers for many years). I'm eager to see what he may come up with next!