Stop Kiss

Manhattan traffic newscaster Callie (Deborah Puette) meets Sara (Kristina Harrison) the week the young, blond schoolteacher arrives in the city. Both have always identified themselves as straight: Callie’s got her friend-with-benefits George (Christan Anderson), whom she assumes she’ll marry once they both stop trying to find someone better, and Sara has just left behind (in St. Louis) her boyfriend of seven years, Peter (Justin Okin), in her quest to find a bigger, harder, more worthwhile life. The two women gradually become best friends, deliciously tormented by their quiet hints that they both want a more physical relationship. But no sooner do they stick a tentative foot out of the closet than they’re pushed out in the worst possible way — as a news story about a violent bigot who puts Sara in a coma. Diana Son’s time-jumping play about coping with the unexpected skips from their first meeting to Callie’s first sit-down with the investigating cop (Jeorge Watson); we’re rooting for the couple to get together under the shadow of the consequences. But Son’s equal emphasis on romance makes the play looser and more inviting than a social-problem drama, and the question isn’t about the source of hate but the depth of Callie’s love, when Peter announces that Sara’s family wants to move her hospital bed back to Missouri. Under Elina de Santos and Matthew Elkin’s direction, the ensemble’s Opening Night was still a little stiff, but Puette’s tender performance captures a haphazard woman realizing that she’s finally sure of at least one thing. Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through August 23. (323) 960-7774. A Rogue Machine production.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: July 9. Continues through Sept. 20, 2009

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