Crime of Passion

“It’s just a bar with a whole bunch of lesbians in it,” says Callie.
“And us,” adds Sara.

Sara, played by Mia Adams, freshman of Chadron, questions a Magic Eight Ball with Callie, played by Courtney Smith, sophomore of Hampton, at the dress rehearsal of “Stop Kiss,” Tuesday night in the Black Box Theatre.

Being different is difficult. Callie and Sara find this out firsthand in “Stop Kiss” as the audience watches the events of their romance unfold, both as it starts to blossom and as it sparks a string of events that tug at the heart strings.
We are first introduced to Callie, played by Courtney Smith, sophomore of Hampton, as she is enjoying her time at home. Sara, played by Mia Adams, freshman of Chadron, shows up next, arriving to New York City from St. Louis with her cat, Caesar.
Right away you can feel the somewhat awkward tension that comes with the first interaction between people who have never met. However, Callie and Sara are sort of forced together since. One, Sara doesn’t really know anyone else in the big city and, two, she can’t have her cat in her apartment, which means that Caesar is staying with Callie. This leads Sara and Callie to spend increasingly more time together and the audience is privy to watch that relationship grows.
The play is broken up into 23 scenes. Each one is relatively short, lasting somewhere around five minutes apiece. The scenes often jump back and forth between Callie’s apartment and the hospital as the audience is taken back in time to observe Callie and Sara get to know one another, and then back to the present again, where they see the current progression of Callie and Sara’s relationship.
The play is filled with light-hearted teasing during the flashbacks and heart-wrenching reality when brought back to today. It’s obvious that Callie is struggling with the events that led to Sara being hospitalized in a coma, but she is forced to recount the painful story to Detective Cole, played by senior Samuel Thomas Martin of Hot Springs, South Dakota, who is investigating the incident.
Not only is she forced to recount the tale, but she’s also tormented with both her own inner self-loathing, made worse by an encounter with Peter.
Peter is Sara’s ex-boyfriend of seven years, played by Trajan Garcia, freshman of Alliance. His own fear and sadness at Sara’s condition is presented in one of the most human of ways: anger at what he can’t understand. Since Callie is the manifestation of that, she gets to take the brunt of his questions. Questions she’s already been asking herself, like why she isn’t the one in the coma instead of Sara. Question that everyone suffering from survivor’s guilt has asked at one point or another.
“Why was she protecting you?!” Peter shouts at one point, just before the scene change.
As those words sink in not only to Callie, but to the audience, the stage goes black again, and while the Memorial Black Box Theatre is dark and the audience has a moment to contemplate what just went down, music plays over the speakers that promotes even more thought and usually seems to be tied with the previous scene. Songs such as “Call Me Maybe” but as vintage cover, or “Stay” by Shakespeare’s Sister.
“What do you want, Callie?” This question seems to be a theme throughout the play as not only a question from Sara and Callie’s close friend, George, played by Nathan Wojciechowski, senior of Gering, but from Callie to herself. And the reality always seems to be that she knows what she wants, but she’s always afraid to go for it.
Other members of the cast include Mickenzi Loyd, sophomore of Big Piney, Wyoming, and Shanie Hollenbeck, sophomore of Estelline, South Dakota.
“Stop Kiss” is roughly a two hour play with many thought provoking concepts and very human reactions to diversity. It received the GLAAD Media Award for Best New York Production. The CSC Theatre Program will be performing it for the public in Memorial Hall’s Black Box Theatre tonight through Sunday, with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. It’s rated for mature audiences because of language, adult concepts and partial nudity.
Tickets are free to CSC students and staff and $5 for the public; call 308-432-6207 or email to reserve them.
Diana Son, the author of the play, has called it political in reference to how politics is a way of looking at events that happen to people. But, overall, she deems the play as a love story. Not a play about homophobia or what it was like to live as a gay or lesbian person in America, but a love story.
And while some people have called it a sad one, I disagree. There are a lot worse ways the story could have ended, considering what happened and what could have happened, I think that it ended on a relatively happy note. Or a sweet one.
And I think that, overall, the thing that wins me over the most about “Stop Kiss” is that it’s real. The cast does a marvelous job of drawing the audience in and playing the parts as real people, not as people simply playing a part in a script. Additionally, it’s not a fairy tale. The characters and events are written in such a way that they are believable. They have hopes and dreams and fears. They love things they’ve become attached to. They hate things they don’t understand.
It’s not an easy love story, but it’s a love story nonetheless. And it is definitely well worth the watch.

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