Stage Kiss

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Photograph: Joan Marcus
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Stage Kiss

Stage Kiss. Playwrights Horizons (see Off Broadway). By Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. With Jessica Hecht, Dominic Fumusa. Running time: 2hrs 5mins. One intermission.

Stage Kiss: In brief

Jessica Hecht (The Assembled Parties) and Dominic Fumusa (Nurse Jackie) star as actors whose roles in a 1930s melodrama blur into their offstage relationship in a play by critical darling Sarah Ruhl (The Clean House). Rebecca Taichman directs the New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons.

Stage Kiss: Theater review by Adam Feldman

“It’s tonally very, you know, slippery”: This is how the ineffectual director (Patrick Kerr) of the play-within-a-play in Stage Kiss describes the 1930s musical melodrama that he is mounting in New Haven. The same is true of Stage Kiss, as Sarah Ruhl intends. Mostly presented in a mode of artificiality—the “real” scenes are barely more natural than those in the faux revival—Ruhl’s play is hardly anything if not meta, at least until midway through Act II. This structure parallels Ruhl’s larger point about the nature of love, as dramatized through the passionate showmance between She (Hecht, aflutter with neurosis) and He (Fumusa), former lovers reunited as costars in a piece that mirrors their own situation. (Daniel Jenkins is her patient Husband.) The jokiness can be very entertaining; Michael Cyril Creighton, especially, works comic wonders as a ruddy and ungainly gay actor. But it’s also not all fresh, and it undermines itself. With the sexual heat of the central couple so often doused by self-consciousness, the play loses its grip on our interest, and poignancy slips through its fingers.—Theater review by Adam Feldman

THE BOTTOM LINE Ruhl casts a winking eye on the stages of love.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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