Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Infinite Abyss Productions: Stop Kiss (4 reviews)

Blowing KissesInfinite Abyss Productions opened their first play, Stop Kiss, on April 1, 2010, at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale.
Diana Son’s Stop Kiss was first produced in New York City in 1998 and won the GLAAD Media Award for Best New York Production and was on the Top 10 Plays lists of the New York Times, New York Newsday, and the New York Daily News. The play tells the story of two women: Callie, a New York City traffic reporter, and Sara, a schoolteacher transplanted from St. Louis, who experience an unexpected attraction to each other. As they begin to fall in love, their relationship is impacted by a sudden act of homophobic violence.
(Read more about Infinite Abyss Productions on

Jeffrey D. Holmes directed a cast that included Monica Garcia, Danielle Tabino, Alejandro Posada, and Todd Bruno.

Brandon K. Thorp wrote for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, and after eulogizing Sol Theatre, and  delivering an almost endless description of the wonders of the script, he eventually actually reviews the production:
In Abyss' hands, this is a play about two people forming a relationship, and that process is articulated gorgeously, almost perfectly, onstage.
Bruno's portrayal meshes perfectly with those of Tabino and Garcia: All three turn in naturalistic, casual performances that don't look like "acting" at all. Garcia in particular seems drawn from life — a cluttered, rich, and infinitely textured life at that. Grab a front-row seat and watch her closely: You can see years of thoughts and sadnesses and joys stamped indelibly onto the cast of her face, and she seems to be wrestling with them and weighing them with every line.
Rod Stafford Hagwood actually wrote like a grown-up for the Sun-Sentinel;
It doesn't seem like acting at all. There's barely any staginess, not one scene reads anything less than organic. The words seem to breathe.
And that's what Garcia and Tabino – directed by Jeffrey D. Holmes – do so effectively: they wrap their character's worlds around yours so slyly that we want to reach out and tap one of the actors on the shoulder and whisper, "You should be more careful, more cautious, more on the down-low."
The supporting cast is as sure and strong as it gets.
Since the play is loosely structured to show what leads up to the kiss and the aftermath of the attack, the cast has to shift emotional gears, turning the play toward new vectors on a dime. They are all seamless performances.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
In its own, completely different way, Stop Kiss is as compelling as The Laramie Project as it turns a spotlight on the way prejudice can morph into deadly violence.
Both the play's sudden time shifts and its story of heretofore straight women who find themselves falling deeply in love are challenges for the director and actors, but Holmes, Garcia and Tabino bring clarity and an always-believable emotional landscape to their work.
Garcia and Tabino get valuable support from Bruno (though imagining his less-than-fit George with Garcia's hot Callie is a stretch)...
Holmes has done a good job of staging the sprawling play in a small space, and though the blackouts between scenes are far too abrupt, the carefully selected music that bridges the pieces of the story always reflects the emotional landscape of a most engaging play.
Mario Betto reviewed for the Fort Lauderdale Theatre Examiner:
Jeffrey Holmes directs a fine cast which would do Diana Son proud. Callie, played by Monica Garcia, delivers a strong and authentic performance.  Danielle Tabino (as Sara) is both innocent and seductive -- in an Audrey Hepburn kind of way.  Sparks fly as our heroines discover a bittersweet world of love, tension and sexual attraction. Garcia and Tabino have a fantastic chemistry and create believable moments of tenderness and conflict on stage.
Beyond this, Mario addresses problems that occurred during a PREVIEW. And of course, the reason it's a preview is to work the kinks out.  Shame on you, Mario: you should know that Thou Shalt Not Review a Preview.  Mr. Betto also failed to mention that this is not an Empire Stage production.

The Infinite Abyss production of Stop Kiss runs through April 25, 2010, at Empire Stage.

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