I want to start off this review by stating that I am lukewarm when it comes to Sarah Ruhl’s work. I think she is extremely talented and ambitious, the plays are uniquely hers and are honest with strong themes/messages; but whenever I see a Sarah Ruhl show I feel like someone is showing me a beautiful painting with one corner covered up. I tend to walk away thinking, “I wish she explored that theme more,” or “the play didn’t feel complete-like scenes were cut out.” Stage Kiss is a completely different story.
Stage Kiss is Sarah Ruhl’s most complete and satisfying work to date. The themes are fully explored, the mapping is perfect, and the surprises are not telegraphed. Bart DeLorenzo is a spectacular director who masterfully navigates the high comedy with the tender heartfelt moments. The cast has stars who shine as a unit instead of as individuals. It truly is an ensemble show, when it could have very easily been stolen by Tim Bagley’s hilarious asides, the eagerness of Matthew Scott Montgomery’s Kevin, Melody Butlu’s angsty Laurie, the delightful Midwest teacher portrayed by Emily James, Stephen Caffrey’s over-the-top husband with moments of honesty, or the school yard love that is perfectly portrayed by Barry Del Sherman and Glenne Headly.
It is hard to not walk out of the Geffen Playhouse smiling after seeing this wonderful production which plays until May 15. I feel like I could give Sarah Ruhl a Stage Kiss myself!
Jerusha: The Geffen is easily winning “best in show” so far this year! And it was lovely to see Bart DeLorenzo’s work again, which I’ve missed since leaving the Odyssey.