By Zani Nobles
Do you remember your first kiss? Imagine if this milestone was ruined because some jerk attacks you and your companion right after this moment. The Department of Speech, Theatre and Dance showed us how this would affect a couple with Stop Kiss, its first play of the year, which took place this past weekend. Falk Theatre was filled with eager faces for the school’s first production. Diana Son’s Stop Kiss (originally produced in 1998) takes us through the ups and downs of Callie and Sara’s relationship leading up to the night they were attacked outside of a club after their first kiss. What starts as a friendship between Callie and Sara turns into something much more. Callie, played by junior Mollie Posnik, is a reserved New York girl who is not content with her life. Sara, played by senior Sally Fint, is a small town girl from St. Louis who came to New York for work and is eager to explore the city. The two meet because Sara hires Callie to take care of her cat, and they become inseparable from that point on. Stop Kiss explores stigmas based upon sexuality and self identity.
The play opens with Callie dancing to her music. Chuckles filled the room as the audience watched her attempts to dance. Sara’s character is then introduced as she comes to Callie’s home to drop off her cat. The two instantly connect, and it’s apparent that they are going to become extremely close.
The scene transitions from a light-hearted meeting between the two women, to Callie sitting in a hospital bed speaking with a detective played by junior Austin White. This is when the audience finds out the the two girls were brutally attacked and that Sara is terribly hurt. The entire play continues to jump between past and present scenes. The narrative goes from the duration of Callie and Sara’s relationship to the aftermath of the attack. This nonlinear storytelling is confusing in the beginning, but it becomes easier to comprehend as the play goes on. During transitions, the stage lights would go off and music would play. Some transitions were long and distracting, however they helped create an element of mystery in the play. Each scene was like a puzzle piece. I was eager to know the full story after watching each scene.
Later on in the play, Callie’s friend George (played by junior Devan Kelty) is introduced. George is an obnoxious character who always says what’s on his mind. His character brings comedic relief to this dark production. He makes funny slick comments throughout the play to keep the audience laughing.
Toward the end of play we begin to see Callie’s embarrassment about her feelings towards Sara. It takes her a long time to finally admit that she has romantic interest in her because she’s worried about what people with think. After the attack, Callie receives backlash from people at work and in her neighborhood for being with a woman. Sara’s family wants to take her back to St. Louis. People are thinking negatively about Callie and Sara’s relationship, however, Callie does not care anymore and she asks Sara to choose to stay in New York with her instead. The last scene of the play shows Callie and Sara sitting on the porch talking, where they have their infamous first kiss that has been talked about during the entire play. Although the audience finally sees the kiss, the play is still left with a cliffhanger. Viewers are left to wonder if Sara goes home to St. Louis or decides to let Callie take care of her in New York.
Overall, the acting in Stop Kiss was wonderful. I enjoyed Posnik and Flint’s portrayal of the bond between Callie and Sara. The beginning is slow, but it becomes more engaging as the play goes on. The play could’ve benefited from a little more action and movement. A majority of Stop Kiss involves two characters sitting and talking to one another. This makes it difficult to be fully engaged, but the frequent transitions help with that. Stop Kiss is a great start to the many productions that University of Tampa will be having this year. If you missed this one, make sure to check out UT’s next play The Rocky Horror Show at Falk Theatre Nov. 19-22, and Nov. 27.
Zani Nobles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.