July 9 – Los Angeles. Although grim and tragic in its societal conflicts, Diana Son's play, which is about the common misinterpretations of love in society and within ourselves, carries with it the same harmony that director Elina de Santos used to set the play's opening rhythm.
Stop Kiss won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York production and Diana Son was awarded a Barilla Kerr Award for Playwrighting. The performance at Theatre Theater marks the third Los Angeles premiere production for one of L.A.’s newest theatre companies, Rogue Machine.
The show runs 90 minutes without an intermission, and is performed at breakneck speed, with lightning fast changes between timelines. While this helps the play to cover more territory than most shows go through in twice the time, it could relax a bit, especially in the beginning when Callie ( Deborah Puetta) is a bit too frantic. Once she made her first incredible shift between threads, she relaxed into the part and the moments between her and Sara ( Kristina Harrison) were truly wonderful.
Showing the contrast of personal and public relationships, " Stop Kiss" is split into two narrative timelines that follow Callie and Sara's growth from friends into lovers and their subsequent trauma at the hands of a brutal hate crime that leaves Sara in a coma and Callie exposed as a lesbian to her peers and friends.
The joy and strength of Stop Kiss is that it celebrates the small triumphs of a relationship (the first dinner, the first time you stay up until 2 am talking, the first time she helps you get up the nerve to confront the neighbor who, like clockwork, every Thursday at 6 pm makes noises like elephants doing Riverdance) instead of the big themes that usually make up gay drama. It is actually a disservice to label Stop Kiss in that genre, as it is about two people discovering that each has fallen in love, and this time it just happens to be with a woman. There are no dramatic "I am gay" revelatory monologues. There is no preaching, nor is there angst over the discovery, which is incredibly refreshing.
Stop Kiss does have some political content: its depiction of the bitter aftermath of a random hate crime is unsparing and disturbing. It's also a pointed and witty account of the way we live now: Callie and Sarah, and Callie's on-again, off-again boyfriend George, personify the hollow aimlessness of c ontemporary urban life. But mostly Diana Son has written a play about a journey toward self-discovery: Callie, so purposeless and scared at the beginning of Stop Kiss, finds the courage not only to commit to Sarah but to fight for her by its end.
Stop Kiss illustrates once again how the strongest plays are coming not from Broadway but from Off-Broadway. It is an extremely moving, hysterical, and most importantly truthful look at relationships and how our lives can change through one moment, or even one kiss.
For more information about tickets and the performance schedule please visit www.roguemachinetheatre.com