Don’t Stop, “Stop Kiss”!


 UCM Theatre opened the stage on their fall play Stop Kiss, written by American playwright, Diana Son and directed by Dr. Aaron Scully on Oct. 6 which ran through Oct. 9 in the Nickerson Blackbox. The performance contained many dark themes and subject matters and, as such, was rated for mature audiences only. 

  Lights open on an apartment, riddled with clutter and disorder; half-crushed budweiser boxes clogging up in the sink, pillows in disarray on an old couch, empty cans sitting tentatively on the floor. After a few moments, allowing the audience to take in the scene in front of them, the apartment’s tenant, Callie, played by senior Hanna Wilson enters and stretches out on the couch. A phone rings and Wilson goes to answer it, proceeding to have a very realistic conversation with nobody, portraying a genuine interaction and going as far as interrupting herself multiple times to convey this. After the call she hurriedly goes to pick up the apartment, tossing things away haphazardly in a frantic attempt to clean the messy abide. A knock at the door welcomes Wilson’s co-star, sophomore Emily Turner, into the scene. Turner plays the sweet and feisty Sara, who just moved to New York and, while excited, doesn’t quite understand city life yet. The two instantly have great chemistry onstage, their conversations flowing with a kind of genuinity you’d see between two old friends. With their first meeting comes the charming awkwardness of any first impression, but with their smiles it’s obvious a friendship, or maybe something more, is already blossoming. 

  After a quick scene change, the cheerful tone is immediately stripped away as lights open again on Callie, being drilled by Detective Cole, played by junior Finn Michael Juliano about just what events occured on the night Sara was attacked and beaten into a coma. Juliano’s portrayal of this character only added to the dark tone of this scene, his serious character really selling this disturbing exposition; Sara was beaten because she spoke up against a man’s sexual and homophobic comments after he caught her and Callie kissing. 

  For the remainder of the show, the performance takes on a kind of time-switch structure, in which each scene flips between past and present, getting closer and closer to that awful night. Each time switch introduces more and more characters into this story. 

  Of these are Callie’s confident, suave friend George, played by senior Jace Nielsen, Sara’s ex boyfriend of 9 years Peter, played junior Cameron Morrison, and the innocent Mrs. Winsley, played by senior Stephanie Heathcock, who witnessed the attack from her apartment window. Each of these actors brought their own unique attitudes to the story, only aiding in the storm of emotions scattered throughout this show. 

  Nielsen, on multiple occasions, served as excellent comedic relief, acting bashful when given compliments or sassy when questioned on his intimate affairs. However, Nielsen has shown off his range of acting in various other shows before and this show is no exception. As Callie slowly begins to seclude herself in her grief and worry over Sara, Nielson explodes in an emotional dialogue, pleading with her to let him in as he explains how worried he was upon hearing about the attack. For Heathcock, it is no different. 

  She exhibits her wide range of acting, playing both the innocent and frustrated bystander as well as the understanding nurse later on. Her warm characters add in a sense of love and hope to this dark story. 

  Meanwhile, Morrison’s portrayal of Peter only gives the audience a feeling of unease as they witness his temperamental freak-out on Callie as the two are waiting to see Sara in her comatose state. 

  With the final time switch, we see Sara and Callie, moments before the attack, as the two finally embrace in a passionate kiss. Pink lights shine on the two before it all goes dark and the show ends. 

  This emotional performance told a tragic story with ease, addressing each topic appropriately and portraying these characters perfectly. Stop Kiss was a treasure to watch and I’m sure anyone who had the pleasure to see it would agree. 


The technical crew of this show absolutely deserves its own shout out. Lighting, designed by Jamie Gresens, and sound effects paired perfectly, selling this shows tone and adding more emotion to intense scenes, with color changes adding a special tone to each setting. The overall set design of this show, arranged by Brittany Brandt, as well as the chosen props, selected by Wesley Freeman, also added to the story as we watch the apartment becoming a character of its own, taking on the same characteristics as Callie and she struggles with her grief. Finally, the costume crew, organized by Hollie Neumann, killed it when it came to the realism of this performance, each scene dressing the characters in a new outfit, adding the audience’s immersion into this world.

Photo submitted by Jack Mclain