Thyrsus puts on an intimate, meaningful performance of ‘Stop Kiss’

| Staff Writer

From Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31, Thyrsus, Washington University’s oldest student theatre group, put on a production of Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss.” Directed by senior Catey Midla, the cast of seven delivered a heartwarming and thought-provoking performance of the play.

“Stop Kiss” chronicles the story of two lovers coming to terms with their feelings for each other, but in a very unique way. In one half of the show, protagonists Callie, played by freshman Alice Nguyen, and Sara, played by freshman Eilis Barrick, try to accept their feelings. In the other half, Callie attempts to cope after she and Sara are physically assaulted, leaving Sara in a coma. These halves of the story are told in an intermittent fashion, with scenes rotating between the former and the latter halves of their story.

One highlight of the show was its dynamic cast. Barrick’s portrayal of Sara’s soft yet optimistic personality was quite charming, and Nguyen did a great job executing Callie’s dry yet heartwarming humor. The two actresses held their own alone while also developing palpable chemistry with each other.

Nguyen particularly stood out in the scenes after the attack, in which she had various interactions with a detective, Mrs. Winsley—a woman in the area who called the police after overhearing the assault—and Sara’s ex-boyfriend Peter. Her acting was superb and required the audience to reflect on what it must feel like to deal with a tragedy right at the beginning of a new relationship.

In one scene, Callie and Mrs. Winsley are having a conversation where Mrs. Winsley asks Callie about the specifics of her relationship with Sara, including how close she is to Sara’s family and how long they have been together. As the two women have just come to terms with their romantic feelings for each other, Callie explains to Mrs. Winsley that they have not been together long, prompting Mrs. Winsley to say “Oh. So you weren’t… really involved.” Immediately after hearing this, Nguyen’s face dropped. It was a chilling moment both in terms of writing and performance.

Love, friendship and tragedy are complex things, especially when they are all intertwined. In the midst of trying to navigate both the aftermath of the recent tragedy and her feelings for Sara, Callie received a comment that diminished the value of her relationship with Sara, and it was heartbreaking to watch.

Another standout performer in “Stop Kiss” was freshman Reese Toomre as the detective. Though only on for a few scenes, Toomre played the detective with an aggression that was genuinely dislikable. He seemed to be insensitive towards Callie and just generally a bad person, which is a tough feat to pull off from an acting standpoint.

Thyrsus consistently does a wonderful job of having intimate settings for their shows, and ‘Stop Kiss’ followed this trend. Set in the lighting lab of Mallinckrodt, the show featured a small yet cozy set with simple, well-done lighting.

With a non-linear, intriguing formula, Diana Son’s ‘Stop Kiss’ chronicles what it is like to fall in love, understand that feeling and cope with going through a tragedy along with a loved one. Under senior Catey Midla’s direction, Thyrsus’ cast delivered an excellent performance of this personal show.

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