Kiss and Cry
nytheatre.com review by Paul Hagen
August 15, 2004
Do not be alarmed if, during the first minutes of Kiss and Cry, you seem to be watching a very awkward play; you’re not. It’s just two characters in an awkward situation. Fiona, a lesbian actress who has just gotten her first big break, and Stacy, a deeply closeted male figure skater, meet by chance—but their very conscious decision to perpetuate rumors of a romance between themselves ends up rocking their respective worlds.
Fiona is played with shining-star feistiness by the lovely Julie Leedes. It’s easy to love her exuberant, malapropism-dropping performance, especially when compared to David Lavine’s Stacy, who embraces the naivete and shame of his closeted character almost to the point of becoming grating. Gregory Marcel absolutely smolders with sexuality in the role of Stacy’s erstwhile lover Trent. (For those of you into this sort of thing, there is a fair amount of boys walking around in their underwear. I’m just saying.) But the show’s biggest surprise is Nell Gwynn, who, in the role of Fiona’s lesbian playwright/director girlfriend, absolutely blew me away. Her fantastic husky voice, her absolute conviction to her uber-serious character, even the way she carries herself—she’s an absolute scene-stealer!
Director Kevin Newbury keeps the action moving in this long (2 hours, 20 minutes) piece, and playwright Tom Rowan’s witty and moving script makes comedic hay out of everything from the difference between Hollywood's and Greenwich Village’s ideas of entertainment to the precious comments of skating commentators to our universal fixation on winning awards, and ends up giving us some really touching moments along the way, as well. The only real issues I have with the play are that it’s not particularly theatrical (in other words, the same script could be just as successful, if not more so, on film—not necessarily a bad thing if that’s how you like your theater served) and that there is a bit of melodrama that drags near the end of Act Two. Of course any and all melodrama is made up for by the final scene, which is a piece of pitch-perfect comedy by Nell Gwynn that left me belly-laughing as the lights went out. In summary, Kiss and Cry is funny, sexy, fun, and definitely turns out some medal-worthy performances.