'Stop Kiss': A Funny, Heartwrenching Tale of Anyone's Reality
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, July 17, 2019 11:01am
Photo by Ahl Mirambel/Inside Manila
"I can do this, you see? Choose me." -Callie
Callie is a New York traffic news reporter while Sara just moved in from St. Louis, Missouri to teach in The Bronx. Two very different women met under certain circumstances and became great friends. But their emotions have something more in store for them. As the two got closer, their friendship transforms into something bigger. Soon, they expressed their affection with each other, but not everyone approves. They faced a hate crime that rendered one in a critical condition. With that, the story of Stop Kiss unfolds.
Stop Kiss is a 1998 Off-Broadway play written by Diana Son. Its first Callie is Jessica Hecht, and its first Sara is Sandra Oh. It was first staged in the Philippines back in 2003 with Monique Wilson as its director, Jenny Jamora as Callie, and Missy Maramara as Sara. After 16 years, Stop Kiss found its way back to the Philippine theater stage. This time, Jenny and Missy switch roles, and the production takes direction from a male point of view through award-winning director Ed Lacson Jr.
The Non-Linear Storyline Works
Stop Kiss has a non-linear storyline, so the story comes in alternate past and future scenes. It means the story doesn't entirely lead to an ending. You might think it will only make the play hard to understand, but it only makes it more interesting. This type of sequence made the audience figure out the story on their own. Towards the end, you'll have many realizations as to why certain characters made choices, making the audience empathize and feel more for the characters.
Stop Kiss didn't need elaborate props or set design to tell the story effectively. In the simplicity of its set design—made only of chairs, a sofa bed, and a hospital bed most of the time—the audience focus on the story's dialogue.
What's interesting is how the artistic team made the transition from the present to the future and vice versa. It has a fascinating way of blocking one scene from the other, kind of like splitting the stage in two. It's not the traditional lights in, lights out sequence. Let's say the experience is like watching your favorite SitCom on television, only this one's live—no cuts.
From Light to Heavy Moods Real Quick
This production plays with the audience's feelings A LOT. Since it has a non-linear storyline, expect unexpected shifts in emotions—you could be crying from laughing and from sadness, be amazed then outraged. Missy's acting prowess is commendable: first, she was crying in a hospital scene; seconds later, she's making the audience laugh in a sequence with Jenny's character Sara or Tarek El Tayech's character George.
Callie and Sara are works of fiction, but they can be someone's reality too. Missy doesn't like her job but can't leave while Sara worked so hard to get a job in The Bronx. These two women reminded us that no matter how lost you feel, whether in a big city or life, you are never alone. Everyone gets lost at least once in this lifetime.
And of course, there's choosing who to love. In this society, same-sex relationships remain an issue—Callie and Sara's story proved that. Hate crimes are still prevalent in reality, not just on stage. How we wish this kind of violence is make-believe, but unfortunately, it isn't. As Stop Kiss shows, this is still a world where people fight for rights and equality.
Under all the humor and romance, Stop Kiss is a heart-tugging story many people could relate to. It's not just a love story; it's a battle for acceptance.
Stop Kiss is a must-watch, and we urge you to see this timely play. Co-presented by Positive Space, MusicArtes, Inc., and New Voice Company, it runs from July 12-14 and July 19-21. And maybe then, you'll find something...worth winning.