Swerve or Straddle: ‘Stop Kiss’ at Rogue Theatre Dives into the Complexity of Relationships

Callie (Halley Elizabeth Robertson) looks fondly on Sara (Jenevieve Lafferty). Photos by Chantel Harvey

Callie (Halley Elizabeth Robertson) looks fondly on Sara (Jenevieve Lafferty). Photos by Chantel Harvey

Rogue Theatre Company closed its first season with a bang, “Stop Kiss” written by Diana Son. Watching the characters, Callie and Sara, learn about themselves through each other was truly remarkable. The play, directed by Chris Kernan, unfolds in unchronological order, which may seem odd, but it helps show the growth between the two and their unexpected feelings for each other.

Each scene delves deep into each character —what makes them tick and their little quirks. This one-act show allows the audience to understand how large of an impact relationships with others can have. Exploring not only the relationship between Callie and Sara, but also between Callie’s friend with benefits, George, portrayed by Oliver Bacus, and Sara’s ex-boyfriend — they all interact with each other at some point and these interactions reveal deep, unsaid emotions built up between them all. Whether the disappointment from Sara’s ex-boyfriend, portrayed by Ryan Engelman, for Sara moving away from St. Louis to New York, or George’s commands for Callie’s attention, these actions between the characters show how deep relationships can go and what it takes to hold onto these relationships during hard times.

The acting, by far, was amazing. The audience could feel the tension and confusion between Callie and Sara as they fell in love with each other with each passing scene. Sara, portrayed by Jenevieve Lafferty, is the outspoken one of the two, never afraid to speak her mind and tell it like it is, while Callie stays silent and moves on during confrontation. Clearly, Sara is the one to fall first for Callie openly to the audience — her body language of hope every time she is around Callie and the desirable need to be near her. Callie, however, isn’t so keen on being romantic with Sara, she denies it consistently, mostly with herself, but when she finally lets go and acknowledges her feelings, a terrible attack happens to them.

Callie, portrayed by Halley Elizabeth Robertson, is the character the audience sees the most of. They take a journey with her on this unexpected affair, but also see the emotional turmoil she feels after the attack, not knowing what to do, but knowing her constant love for Sara.

Callie (Halley Elizabeth Robertson) and Sara (Jenevieve Lafferty) decide to either straddle or swerve during their late night card game. Photo by Chantel Harvey

Callie (Halley Elizabeth Robertson) and Sara (Jenevieve Lafferty) decide to either straddle or swerve during their late night card game. Photo by Chantel Harvey

In one scene that shows the unique characteristics between Callie and Sara, they play a card game together where they each give a scenario with a problem and the other has to choose to straddle the problem head on or swerve and avoid it. Sara chooses to straddle each scenario while Callie clearly would choose to swerve each scenario, even though she denies it.

In addition, the set was fantastic along with the seating of various church pews walking into the set was similar to stepping into a college apartment — a very nostalgic feeling. Clothes, trash, papers, plastic bags, books, even a tampon box were thrown everywhere in Callie’s dining room and living room, which made Callie very real and gave the set a familiar feeling. Right next to her apartment, basically connected, was the hospital room and hospital waiting room.

Rogue Theatre Company outdid itself with this fabulous play, showing how important it is to treasure those you are close with and the incredible complexity between each human relationship.

 

Written by Lauren Leady