Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In the wee hours of the morning, in a bustling metropolis, two women are viciously attacked after a man catches them kissing. This is the incident that sets the wheels in motion for Diana Son’s 1998 play “Stop Kiss.” However, it’s also a mirror image of what happened to a couple in London just last May of this year. Over 20 years later, “Stop Kiss” remains as relevant as ever — which makes Ed Lacson, Jr.’s 2019 re-staging all the more important.
Starring award-winning actresses Missy Maramara as Callie, a traffic reporter who feel stuck in her job and routine life, and Jenny Jamora as Sara, a wide-eyed St. Louis, Missouri-born teacher who moves to New York City to teach in the Bronx, “Stop Kiss” follows their characters as they navigate a friendship that feels like something more, and a traumatic experience that changes their lives for good.
Without giving too much away, it’s an understatement to say that “Stop Kiss” will break your heart. It masters the feeling of queer first love — the aching, the slow burn, the search for signals in the most minute details, and the tender declaration of one’s feelings. Maramara is a joy to watch as she peels back Callie’s layers, from being a frantic baby gay to a broken but determined woman. But that’s just one half of the equation.
Oscillating between past and present with ingenious stage design, we’re treated to a rollercoaster ride of what it means to be in a queer relationship: the fear these characters face has as much to do with the discovery that what they feel for each other is more than just friendship, as it does with the fact that this puts them in a very vulnerable position. It’s a stark reminder that even in 2019, the mere existence of a queer couple — nay, a queer person — is an act of bravery.
And “Stop Kiss” is relevant not only as a queer story but as a woman’s story as well. It presents the worst case scenario for every woman who has ever felt the urge to fight back against street harassment. “Stop Kiss” is a story of love, bravery, and choice — choosing to fight back, to love, and to find dignity and power in who you are.
“Stop Kiss” is produced by Positive Space, MusicArtes, and New Voice Company and also stars Tarek El Tayech, Gabe Mercado, Robbie Guevara, Jay Valencia Glorioso, and J-mee Katanyag in stellar performances.
It runs from July 12 to 14 and July 19 to 21, 2019 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit, Makati. For tickets, visit the “Stop Kiss” Manila Facebook page.