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Stop Kiss

By John Barry | Posted 5/7/2003

Stop Kiss

Diana Son

Most performances of Diana Son's Stop Kiss at Towson University are followed by moderated discussions about hate crimes and gay rights. Speakers include such notables as Judge Hallee Weinstein and former U.S. Rep. Sabrina Sojourner. More power to them. But the two main characters of Stop Kiss themselves would probably find the spotlight a little uncomfortable.

Callie (La Terra Moore) and Sara (Amy Schumer) are two young women who meet in New York. Callie is a traffic reporter and die-hard New Yorker; Sara is an idealistic young teacher. They both have male companions, but when the two women first meet, they sense a mutual attraction. After a few weeks, they spend a night out on the town and, on the way back home, they stop and they kiss.

But nothing is that simple. No sooner have their lips parted than someone grabs Sara and beats her into a coma. Callie finds herself being interrogated by the crusty Detective Cole (McCaul Baggett), who seems to think that they got what was coming to them. Their pictures are on the 5 o'clock news, and they become poster girls for gay-rights groups. Left nursing her comatose friend, Callie wonders aloud how exactly they'd become lesbians instead of just friends.

Why is this affair such a big deal? There's no Kissing Jessica Stein-type agenda here; there are no romantic firecrackers. But it's still about chemistry. The play's strong suit is in the performances of Moore and Schumer, as they negotiate an open-ended relationship still in its very formative stages. No one gains the upper hand: While Callie is the somewhat jaded New Yorker, Sara, the innocent schoolmarm, seems to push the relationship along.

The final effect is of a meditative, indeterminate pastiche, framed with a comfortably disjointed set by Daniel Ettinger that offers a refuge from the outer world as the two young women struggle to find their way. The Norah Jones-infused soundtrack lays it on a bit thick, but without the hate crime and the larger Issues, this play could just be about two co-workers making out at the office Christmas party. They may never make it to second base, but that won't stop the crowd at the water cooler from talking.

Because its premise is not exactly exciting, you may be tempted to nod off at points, but an interesting point is nevertheless delicately made: If you don't come up with a plot line for your own relationship, someone else will write one for you. And whether that rewrite involves political activism or a punch in the face is anybody's guess.

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