‘Stop Kiss’ explores jumping into love in the ‘most human way’

In Baldwin Wallace’s rendition of Diana Son’s play, “Stop Kiss,” junior Cecelia Zitarosa plays Callie, the lead role in a non-chronological story that engages the audience with an unexpected love story.

Zitarosa said: “It’s about the relationships, the human connections. The actions are made more specific, interesting and are more illuminating when connected to a relationship.”

In the time it normally takes to watch a Hollywood blockbuster, the audience will see the evolution of an unexpected friendship-turned-relationship between Callie and Sara, a newcomer to New York City who took a teaching job in the Bronx after living for years in the St. Louis area.

Leaving behind her family and ex-boyfriend, Peter, Sara quickly becomes good friends with Callie. What begins with a mildly awkward encounter in Callie’s fancy New York apartment turns into a close friendship before unexpectedly blossoming into a life-changing romantic relationship.

When Callie and Sara affirm their love with a late night kiss in a local park, they become victims of a brutal beating. Sara ends up in a coma, leaving Callie to deal with a major decision—to jump in or out of their love.

Callie, being a prominent social figure as a traffic reporter for a 24-hour news radio station, is hesitant to admit to herself and the public her affection towards Sara. Though Callie doesn’t like her job, her reluctance to acknowledge this previously unexplored part of her sexuality can be traced to her protectiveness of her reputation and her fear of not being publicly accepted.

“When Sara’s family contemplates moving her back to St. Louis due to her injuries, Callie realizes that she doesn’t want to lose something so important to her,’ said Zitarosa.

Director Brennan Murphy explained that his goal with this play is to tell the story of two people unexpectedly finding and jumping into love in the “most human way possible.”

Murphy said that one of his excitements for this play is that it “challenges the actors,” especially Zitarosa, who is forced to carry much of the play herself due to the heavy plot reliance on her character.

“You can’t do this play without an actor willing and able to drive the story,” Murphy said.

Zitarosa, she said that the play is “about way more than a kiss.”

Throughout the story, the audience will become engulfed in the wide range of emotions that accompany the building of a friendship and relationship.

Zitarosa said her biggest challenge as the lead who appears in all but one scene is the marathon-like task of alternating between elation and depression. Due to the plot’s nonchronological order, Zitarosa is forced to go from scenes of laughing and yelling to crying which she described as “very taxing.”

Zitarosa believes the audience will find the parallels from scene to scene both “interesting and intellectually exciting” as they are challenged to piece together the themes of commitment, human emotion and the difficulties that come with building a relationship.

The play will be performed Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre within the Kleist Center for Art & Dram