Epic Theatre Company has been on a roll lately, with superior productions of Angels in America and Compleat Female Stage Beauty. Unfortunately, Stop Kiss, which examines the close friendship between two women, aims for high drama but ends up being deadly dull.
Callie (Lauren Odenwalder) meets Sara (Kerry Giorgi), a St. Louis native who moved to New York City. Callie is a traffic reporter for a radio station. Sara is a teacher who works in the Bronx. Callie hates her job but is afraid to seek something more fulfilling. Sara has dreams of teaching at a more prestigious institution. While on a date, the women are savagely attacked in a park. Sara is left comatose as a result. The story alternates between the present and the past, as we see what led up to the fateful night.
The problem with Stop Kiss is the relationship between Callie and Sara. It is never compelling to watch. A further failure of the show lies in the flat writing as well as the lackluster direction by Blanche Case. Diana Son’s script is meant to present a touching look at a romance between Callie and Sara, but never quite connects.
Callie and Sara engage in banal conversation, including swerving to avoid potholes in the road, how to put toilet paper on a roll, and how to eat corn on the cob. There are also numerous scenes where Callie visits Sara in the hospital. It quickly becomes tedious. Giorgi and Odenwalder are capable performers, but are hamstrung by the mundane dialogue. The best moments in the play are courtesy of Geoff White, who plays a gruff detective who interrogates Sara about the attack. Unfortunately, he appears very briefly.
Callie is initially vague with the details about what happened to her and Sara, but eventually breaks down under his questioning. When Callie describes the assault, it is truly chilling.
Jonathan Fisher plays George, Callie’s close friend and sexual partner. CT Larsen also shows up as Peter, Sara’s former boyfriend, who has his own questions about the assault. Mary Paolino plays an eyewitness to the assault. These performances are all fine, but they only make up a portion of Stop Kiss‘ 95-minute running time.
Is Stop Kiss trying to make a statement about the horror of violence committed against the LGBT community? Or about the complications of finding romance in the big city? It is hard to tell. There are many potential themes in Stop Kiss, but they aren’t told in a particularly interesting way.
Stop Kiss will be performed at Theatre 82 Located at 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston, October 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 8pm. For ticket information, visit epictheatreri.com