Review: Stage Kiss

Festival Antigonish stages the Canadian debut of Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss

click to enlarge Hugh Thompson, Francine Deschepper and Chrstian Murray in Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss. - ASHLEY PETTIPAS
Ashley Pettipas
Hugh Thompson, Francine Deschepper and Chrstian Murray in Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss.

Stage Kiss is Sarah Ruhl’s charming comedy about two actors struggling to separate their roles onstage from their roles in romance. A woman (Francine Deschepper) has been away from the stage for many years and is cast in a play opposite her former lover (Christian Murray). As they begin to rehearse an overwrought 1930s melodrama, their personal lives and stage personas bleed together, with many dysfunctional results.

While the premise might seem to appeal more to theatre buffs, Ruhl’s writing is intelligent and zany, and Andrea Boyd’s direction allows the story to settle into something more interesting than the meta-theatrical world we’re watching. This is helped by many strong supporting performances, particularly the hilarious Naomi Vogt as the unspeaking, and probably hungover, actress at rehearsals, and Hugh Thompson, whose presence has a magnetic manic energy that you can’t look away from. There is also some fine physical comedy from Christian Murray and Francine Deschepper, who are charismatic as the two romantic leads.

All told, Stage Kiss is a fun and daffy comedy, with some wonderful moments of emotional truth about relationships and moving on. While not Sarah Ruhl’s best play, it manages to refresh some stale romantic comedy tropes and offer more than a few good laughs.

Stage Kiss
Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Andrea Boyd
Festival Antigonish
The Baur Theatre
Runs until August 25

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