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Stage Kiss

a Play
by Sarah Ruhl

COMPANY : Onion Man Productions [WEBSITE]
ID# 5047

SHOWING : April 06, 2017 - April 16, 2017



Sarah Ruhl is a Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright and a Tony Award nominee.

It all started with a kiss . . . but when imaginations begin to run wild, real life has a funny way of crashing down for two ex-lovers that are cast as romantic opposites in this witty love letter to the stage.

​“STAGE KISS" is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Director Janie Young
Fight Choreographer Paige Steadman
Fight Choreographer Paige Steadman
Adrian Schwalbach Rob Glidden
Millicent/Laurie Jessie Kuipers
She/Ada Kelly Jo Roarke
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


by playgoer
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Sarah Ruhl’s "Stage Kiss" is a backstage story in which two former lovers are cast as romantic partners in two consecutive stage productions. Their personal relationship affects their stage relationship and vice versa. The success of "Stage Kiss" depends on the actors being able to navigate the fine line between their stage selves and their real selves. In Onion Man’s production, the line is blurred.

Action takes place in a variety of settings, accomplished in Patrick Young’s set design by having right-angled flats that can be turned with their backs to the audience for backstage scenes, then angled one way for stage scenes and another way for apartment scenes. Ms. Ruhl’s script cleverly accomplishes the transition from a NY apartment to a Detroit stage by having the apartment used as inspiration for the look-alike set. Still, there are a number of scene changes that slow the action a bit.

Janie Young’s direction blocks scenes using the audience area for the director (Rob Glidden) and pianist (Adam Jaffe) to sit in. Stage action keeps everyone visible, even in the most crowded scenes, and the action is relatively fluid. The lighting design by James Beck and Janie Young has a few nicely realized effects, and their sound design covers scene changes with music.

Where the show falls apart is in the performances. Some are excellent. Jessie Kuipers mines every bit of humor out of her two minor roles, and Alyssa Gera fills her two roles with equal vigor and flair. Rob Glidden makes his character the humorously natural epitome of a directionless director. Kelly Jo Roarke, in the central role of an actress, comes across well, but can’t carry the show on her own. Glenn Allen, as her husband, does some nice work, but is understated to the point of invisibility. Adam Jaffe, as an understudy forced to play multiple roles, fulfills the bare needs of the script, but doesn’t capture the insecurity of an actor forced in over his head. Worst of all is Spencer Rich as the actor cast opposite Ms. Roarke. He is too young for the role (with obvious graying of hair at the temples), has iffy pitch as a singer, and seems genuine in only one small segment near the end of the play. Otherwise, he seems stagey in the real-life scenes and barely different in the play-within-a-play scenes. It’s not believable that these actors supposedly have Broadway credits and are appearing in professional stage productions.

The two play-within-a-play works are a brittle 30’s-style comedy and an Irish/prostitute IRA-centered drama, which would seem to place the action sometime in the past. The frequent four-letter words that pepper the dialogue set the real-life action in the current day, though, so things don’t quite ring true. There’s a lot of material for actors to sink their teeth into, but only some of the minor characters really triumph in their portrayals. The play requires technique and commitment in all roles, and Ms. Young hasn’t been able to fill her cast with talent commensurate with the requirements of the script. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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