Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Stop Kiss
Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training

Lucy Lavely and Tori Grace Hines
Diana Son's Stop Kiss tells the story of two women before and after a gay bashing precipitated by a kiss on the street. The play unfolds in short scenes alternating between the budding friendship, which turns into romantic feelings, and the aftermath, with one lying in a coma. The scenes need to flow seamlessly from one to the next in order to sustain a proper post-MTV flow. Being of a certain age, this style is not the best fit for my tastes, and the emotional arc of Ms. Son's vision leaves me cold.

The Asolo Conservatory production, directed by Matthew Arbour does not come close to solving the problem of the scene changes. They are done fairly quickly, usually 30-45 seconds on a darkened stage and covered by music, but the shifts are bothersome. Also, the music is over loud and not a good emotional fit for this play. I wish the Conservatory staff had taken a closer look at the fare being offered by Asolo Rep in the same complex, and seen how a great directorial sense of period and place makes a play effective, because on so many levels Mr. Arbour didn't connect with the material's stylistic demands. Besides the transition issues, there is a lack of intensity in the pacing.

It is very hard to judge the acting when they do not have a solid hand guiding them, but Lucy Lavely as Callie and Tori Grace Hines as Sara seem to project a sense of the characters, Callie as the long time New Yorker, Sara fresh from the Midwest with its sunny optimism. The other characters are simply too minor to really give the other actors much to really sink their teeth into, but everyone seems at least competent.

Set and lighting design by Chris McVicker and Costume design by Amy J.Cianci are effective. Voice and Speech Coach Patricia Delorey must have done her job well because I was able to understand every word, even though my hearing is not the best. Stage Manager Erin MacDonald keeps things moving so that the performance goes off without a hitch.

I just wish that Ms. Son's vision of how to tell this story, based upon an actual incident, and mine were more in harmony.

Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training Presents Stop Kiss through March 10, 2013 at the Cook Theater. For more information, visit

Cast (In order of Appearance)
Callie: Lucy Lavely
Sara: Tori Grace Hines
Detective Cole: Reginald K. Robinson, Jr.
George: Cale Haupert
Mrs. Winsley: Maxey Whitehead
Peter: Jefferson McDonald
Nurse: Kristen Lynne Blossom

Directed by Matthew Arbor
Set & Lighting Design by Chris McVicker
Costume Design by Amy J. Cianci
Sound Design by Matthew Parker
Stage Manager: Erin MacDonald
Voice and Speech Coach: Patricia Delorey

Photo: Frank Atura

--William S. Oser

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