Stage Kiss Review - Bacon to a Hungry Vegetarian

Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s STAGE KISS is a play within a play within a play - or something like that. This delightful farce blurs the lines between the real and the make-believe, keeping the audience on its toes through each uproarious situation. “In like a lion and out like a lamb” can aptly be applied to both March and STAGE KISS. The play literally explodes into your consciousness with a riot of very funny situations and people. A surprise star in these proceedings is Keith Mitchell’s ever-changing sets - sometimes so quick that they seem almost magical.

 

Glenne Headly, Melody Butiu, Emily James, Barry Del Sherman, Matthew Scott Montgomery, and Stephen Caffrey - Photo by Michael Lamont

The principal players, He and She, haven’t seen each other for over 20 years - when they were lovers who thought that they would never part. But part they did - until She (Glenne Headly) gets cast in a play opposite He (Barry Del Sherman) and they share an awkward kiss which gradually doesn’t seem so awkward after all. But now she’s married to a reliable but unexciting husband (Stephen Caffrey) and has a rebellious teen-aged daughter (Emily James) - and he’s living with a homebody Midwestern school teacher (Melody Butiu) who has designs on a long mutual future. Meanwhile, interspersed around and in between their personal stories, the play that brought them together wanders on into the tale of a dying English socialite who tells her devoted and rich husband that she wants to see her old lover one last time. While the laissez-faire director (Tim Bagley) and his gay protégé (Matthew Scott Montgomery) eat their way through rehearsals, the audience keeps laughing.

 

Barry Del Sherman and Glenne Headly - Photo by Michael Lamont

This is a tale of romance, love, and marriage - but told in an unexpected and uproarious way. If you want to find out how marriage is like a tattoo, then STAGE KISS will point you in the right direction. What about the differences between romance and marriage? STAGE KISS has some pointers on that, too.

 

Glenne Headly and Stephen Caffrey - Photo by Michael Lamont

The cast does a bang-up job of extracting every drop of humor from the play, which has its share of physical and verbal gaffes. Three in the cast of seven play multiple roles and do a very good job of each. Director Bart DeLorenzo keeps the action moving and manages to help the actors connect expression, body language, and words. But a farce is a farce and by definition not to be taken seriously. However, author Ruhl wants to be sure that her message comes across. As that message surfaces (important though it may be, and also perhaps realistic), the play begins to falter and slow down, ending with a whimper rather than a shout. Overall, however, this is a clever, refreshing, unpredictable - and often hysterical - study of how people connect - and disconnect.

 

Glenne Headly and Melody Butiu - Photo by Michael Lamont

STAGE KISS runs through May 15, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays to Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 LeConte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets range from $46 to $82. For reservations, call 310-208-5454 or go online at www.geffenplayhouse.com.

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