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STOP KISS, Naked Eye Theatre Company, at the Theatre Building. Imagine Callie and Sara, two de facto heterosexual women who realize they're infatuated with each other. At the moment of their first kiss, however, they're attacked by a gay basher, who leaves one of them comatose.

It's not a bad place to start a play considering the situation's inherent personal and political complexities, especially when the coma victim's provincial Saint Louis boyfriend shows up to take her away. But in this inexplicable New York hit playwright Diana Son merely hints at such complexities, instead writing meandering flashbacks that chart each generic step of the courtship. Son seems to believe that watching two pleasant but unremarkable women chat, spat, and flirt is compelling drama--so compelling that she rushes back to their sitcomish past every time a moment of real drama looms. By the tenth diversionary retreat it's clear that the playwright is unwilling or unable to confront the meat of her story. And since only three of the play's seven characters have any bearing on the plot, this seems one of the most pointless plays to hit the big time.

In her directorial debut, Jenny Bacon gives the play warmth and heart, a remarkable accomplishment considering the two-dimensional material. But with the exception of Katie Cassis's richly nuanced portrayal of Sara, the cast's overearnest acting doesn't leave room for mystery or surprise.

--Justin Hayford

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