This weekend I saw Indiana University's handsome production of Diana Son's Stop Kiss at The Wells-Metz Theatre.
The production itself was solid and featured a strikingly realistic set by Katie McDermott. One thing that isn't remotely realistic is Diana Son's dated, sitcomy script. The play was first produced in 1998 at The Public Theater, so being theater you have to subtract a decade to find it's real place in the zeitgeist. 1988 makes way more sense than 1998.
Each of the characters struck me as deeply unrealistic for different reasons. The two women, who fall for each other during the course of the play, are strong and intelligent, and it's completely unbelievable they would have such a struggle with their homosexual feelings. The lead, Callie, is a NYC traffic reporter and NYU graduate, living in Greenwich Village. We're supposed to believe that she is totally taken aback by her attraction to her friend? Unlikely.
Two other characters, an angry homophobic cop and a scared odd neighbor don't gel at all with the kind of people you'd meet in the West Village. The play's main event, a gay bashing on the corner of Bleecker and W. 11th Street, is a very rare occurrence and hardly one of the main struggles of urban life.
What makes this worth writing about? Stop Kiss paints an unfair portrait of life in New York City, while billing itself as a "contemporary look at urban life." It's hardly contemporary and certainly not realistic.