With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy/Dramatic Criticism, Alyssa Dyksterhouse has over 20 years of professional theater experience. She recently returned from the living in the Pacific Northwest where she wrote about arts and culture for Seattle Weekly and Seattle Gay Scene.
Review: STOP KISS at The Cuckoo’s Theater Project
This winter, I spent an awkward amount of hours viewing LAW AND ORDER: SVU; hence, I exuded excitement about seeing The Cuckoo’s Theatre Project’s STOP KISS scribed by Diana Son who wrote and produced for Dick Wolf’s famous franchise. Ultimately, I wished I was at home streaming Hulu.
The play begins in a late-nineties Greenwich Village apartment where twenty-something Callie (Winter Sherrod) waits for a friend-of-a-friend—and recent transplant—Sara (Jackie Seijo) to drop off her cat for rehoming. From there the two form an instant bond which rapidly grows into an unspoken yearning in this non-linear tale which transitions between past and present. At the center of the plot is a horrendous hate crime leaving Sara hospitalized.
Under the direction of Angela Forshee, this production fails to deliver on Son’s subtle—and somewhat unsettled—script. Though her character displays definitive Gen X detachment, Sherrod plays her too monotone making Sara’s ultimate enchantment unbelievable. Think too much Lena Dunham and not enough Wynonna Rider. Also, she was so soft-spoken that I struggled to hear her. Marc James as Detective Cole makes Elliot Stabler seem as compassionate as Mother Teresa.
Additionally, the design elements are unbalanced. On one hand, Shannon Melick’s set skillfully and imaginatively creates multiple locations. Notably, Callie’s apartment reminded me of my post-college dwelling with a hodgepodge of furniture and barely functional kitchen. Unfortunately, Asha McAllister’s costumes are painfully 2017 with leggings and ankle boots when these characters are more cargo pants, Doc Martens, and bare midriffs. Furthermore, between each scene, the lights dim—while we listen to some headliner from Lilith Fair—which annoyingly impacts the fluidity and seamlessness of the action.
While the hate crime plot-points proffer it timely, the underlying conflict of love and vulnerability remain universal. Everyone can relate to the hesitancy, confusion, and excitement experienced by Callie and Sara. That said, one can experience that watching Rachel and Ross on FRIENDS reruns.