At the heart of Stop Kiss is a traditionally formed love story where Sarah (Kara Taylor Alberts) and Callie (Suzanne Boreel) meet through friends when Callie agrees that Caesar the cat can lodge with her while Sarah settles into New York before she finds somewhere to live where a cat is welcome too.
The friendship between the couple is tinted favourably from the beginning with potential as they are very comfortable with one another and chat easily right from the moment they meet.
Diana Son has written this play with a refreshing outlook seeing a relationship growing from an organic perspective which nowadays is mainly focused through a dating app.
The stage depicts a messy apartment in a nicer area of New York rented by Callie where the main parts of the story take place. The working intercom allows you to suspend your disbelief and imagine that people are actually visiting her. After the girls are attacked we never see any of Sarah’s life-threatening bruises or injuries. These are described to us through the cast.
There are elements of homophobia during the play. Especially from the tone that Detective Cole (Matt Brewer) adapts when he is interviewing Sarah afterwards to ascertain what took place before and after. He asks repeatedly throughout their interview, what did Sarah say to provoke him? How could anyone provoke a stranger to the degree of smashing their head into a wall repeatedly?
Mrs Winsley (Rebecca Crankshaw) is their only witness and scared the attacker off by throwing plant pots at him. I recognised some of myself in her character as like her I couldn’t understand why there anything wrong with the girls being in love.
Perhaps if Son has written this play through personal observations it’s about time that people who have any homophobic outlook on life need to see the couple as two human beings in love with each other rather than focusing on gender.
Review by Elaine Chapman
After Callie meets Sara, the two unexpectedly fall in love. Their first kiss provokes a violent attack that transforms their lives in a way they could never anticipate.
Written and first performed in 1998, STOP KISS is still as potently relevant now as it was back then.
Kara Taylor Alberts
Kylie Vilcins for Above The Stag Theatre presents
by Diana Son
by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited, London
directed by Rafaella Marcus