Tall Tales

As a lyricist, David Cale has put words into the mouths of singers Deborah Harry, Elvis Costello, and Syd Straw. As an actor, he's slipped into character on-screen in Woody Allen's Radio Days and onstage in the Broadway production Present Laughter. Telling stories through other people, real or imaginary, is Cale's gift, which he bestows upon local viewers in Lillian, a one-man show he wrote and now performs live. Without benefit of costumes or wigs, Cale transforms himself into the titular character, a thirtysomething married Englishwoman who has a brief love affair with Jimmy, a reckless youth 15 years her junior. Years later, after she's divorced, she and Jimmy are reunited, and with little fanfare fall into harmonious coupledom until the day Jimmy mysteriously vanishes. Cale's Lillian, likened to James Joyce's Molly Bloom, ruminates on husband, lover, and self in alternately comic and tender passages, making for a compelling tale. The show opens Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 28) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $18-25; call 441-8822. Cale's Feb. 11 performance will benefit the Center for Digital Storytelling, a UC Berkeley research and training center that offers would-be storytellers an array of resources to help them mine their own material and hone their technique. A post-show reception with Cale features a demonstration of digital storytelling projects. Admission is $18-50; for reservations call (510) 821-2065, for more information about the center, see www.storycenter.org. (H.W.)

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