Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Although it is performed without an intermission, Kiss can be divided into three distinct phases. The first is a hilariously over-the-top soap opera style romantic comedy set in Syria. There are surprise marriage proposals, dramatic confessions, love triangles, and broken hearts aplenty. The talented ensemble keeps the audience laughing even when the twists and turns seem a bit silly. When the romantic comedy ends, so does the first phase of the play. In the second phase the cast drops their romantic comedy personas to set up for a talk-back with the audience and the author. In phase three things get really bizarre and intense.
Director Fadi Skeiker has put together the perfect ensemble to bring this captivating work to life. Anthony Martinez-Briggs brings an easygoing, self-assured attitude to all of the characters he portrays. Justin Jain has a manic sort of vigor that elevates the play's funniest and most intense moments. Both actors are excellent, but the two female leads absolutely blew me away with their provocative and passionate performances. Even though she is always playing an actress, Sarah Gliko's over-the-top turn as the soap opera's spurned lover contrasts gorgeously with her other roles in a way that is both satisfying and enlightening. Taysha Marie Canales evokes dramatically different energies during each phase of the play, but she conveys a magnificent gravitas every moment she is on stage.
Jian Jung's dynamic set design and Reza Behjat's excellent lighting evolve with the play. The groundbreaking video projections by Alan Price, the director of the University of the Arts' Center for Immersive Media, takes things to the next level. The use of cutting-edge projection mapping technology has to be seen to be believed.
The Wilma is my favorite place to see interesting, unexpected and thought-provoking theater in Philadelphia. Kiss is all that and more. I cannot wait to see what they do next.
Kiss runs through February 19, 2023, at the Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad Street , Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit wilmatheater.org, call the box office at 215-546-7824, or visit the box office.