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Theater review: 'Stop Kiss' at the Lounge

December 8, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Stop kiss picture
It’s interesting that directors Ken Barnett and Larry Biederman have elected to keep Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss” set in 1998, the year it was first produced at the Public Theatre in New York. There’s no pressing reason for retaining that particular period, unless the co-directors felt that the present-day West Village is now too gentrified to be a convincing setting for the vicious gay-bashing that is at the crux of the play.

The tragedy centers around the very first kiss between Callie (Emma Jacobson-Sive) and her best friend, Sara (Kelly Hill).  A recent transplant to New York, Sara meets Callie through a friend and quickly bonds with her. Over the course of multiple chat-fests, the women’s close friendship segues into something very much like love. When the couple takes a late-night stroll in a city park, their initial osculation catches the attention of a vicious young thug who beats Sara into a coma.

That’s no spoiler. Son’s play vaults back and forth in time, pre- and post-assault. By the second scene, we know the nature of the disaster

The current production at the Lounge Theatre is workmanlike but lacks a certain vitality.  Jacobson-Sive and Hill are personable performers, as are the rest of the cast, which includes Cliff Weissman, Keith Ewell, Lisa Goodman and Connor Barrett.  But Barnett and Biederman’s conscientious yet overly sincere staging shortchanges Son’s delicate humor.  As a result, the blurred shifts between the quotidian and the catastrophic drain the play of its requisite suspense.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Stop Kiss,” Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.  8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays.  Ends Dec. 18.  $20.  (800) 838-3006. www.brownpapertickets.com. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Photo: Kelly Hill and Emma Jacobson-Sive in "Stop Kiss." Credit: Anthony Auer.

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