Arts: Stop Kiss rejuvenates urban romance

For those of us tired of the average, mind-numbing love story, then the only viable option this weekend is the Department of Theatre and Dance’s new play, Stop Kiss, by Diana Son. The play focuses on a complex love story between two women who meet through coincidence, develop a friendship and ultimately fall in love.

Callie (Cody Lindquist) is a hardened New Yorker in her late 20s living alone after her boyfriend left her for her sister. She is involved in a less than meaningful romantic relationship with her friend George (Matt Gula), hates her job as a traffic reporter and possesses a fairly neurotic personality. Enter Sara (Ann Meyer), possessing all the characteristics of a small-town girl in the Big Apple. Callie and Sara meet through mutual friends, and their relationship thickens from there.

The reason for the play’s title is clear from the start – the major action takes place when Callie and Sara kiss for the first time on the streets of Manhattan at 4:30 in the morning. Although Callie comments that many people cannot remember their first kiss, the women will never forget theirs.

As the couple sits alone on a bench, the women are unexpectedly and brutally attacked, leaving Callie badly bruised and Sara in a coma. The story continues from there and ultimately returns to the point just before the attack, jumping back and forth from the development of the women’s friendship to Sara’s slow recovery in the hospital, when the women fall in love. While Stop Kiss addresses many emotional issues, it does not lack wit and comedy.

On the surface, Stop Kiss appears to be focused solely on the implications of sexual orientation, but director Nathan Garner stresses that the play is a moving and poignant love story that goes far beyond any simple or hasty assumptions. It is a complex look at the issues of identity and perception, questioning the way we define ourselves and are often unjustly labeled by others.

Lindquist is captivating for every minute onstage, and Anna Meyer provides an unquestionable portrayal of Sara. Also of note are actors Shawna Thomas as Detective Cole and Adam Isserlis, playing Sara’s small-town ex-lover.

Although the characters in Stop Kiss do not appear especially unique at first, the situation they are thrust into brings out something original in each of their personalities.

This play will make you think about societal assumptions, about people and about situations, without the common cliches you would expect.

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