Tuesday May 30th 2017

“Stage Kiss”

Highly Recommended  I love farce! In particular, one that is well done, and the new Sarah Ruhl comedy, commissioned by The Goodman, “Stage Kiss” has all the ingredients of a well done farce. A powerful cast of actors and an inane situation that deals with an actor ,HE ( Mark L. Montgomery) and an actress, SHE ( Jenny Bacon, in what has to be the most fun she has ever had on a stage), who at one time were lovers an dthen went their seperate ways. Now, they have been cast in a new play as lovers and as the rehearsal period goes on and into the actual production, the kisses they share in their roles begin to rekindle the flame that existed some  twenty years earlier.

Their lives have changed- she is a married woman with a teen age daughter, and until auditioning for this new production has limited her acting to community theater. He on the other hand is still a struggling actor, now living with a school teacher in a small apartment. As the play-within-a- play inforlds ( which is pretty much what the first act is all bout) we watch these people begin to come back together in wha appears to be a match made in heaven. But, act two holds many surprises for them in that what they thought was the magic of their past, may just be a sort of escape from their present. Many of us know the stories of actors and actresses who during the course of a production, find themselves falling in love with their co-star. In many cases, this is just the power of the play or the power of the time spent together or perhaps just the need to have a change from the everyday life they lead. In most cases, this is just a “thing” that ends when the play ends ( although there are stories of some that have ended up as new lives for these actors).

He and She, as they become their characters and recall the magic of their past find that the romantic story on stage rekindles the rality of what they had and bring it to a higher level. Her husband ( deftly handled by Scott Jaeck, who also plays an actor in the first act) loves her dearly and is quick to  keep his family as it was and their teen age daughter ( Sarah Tolan-Mee has this down to perfection) finds it impossible to believe that her mother can do this to her. He’s girlfriend , Laurie (  the adorable Erica Elamwho also plays a role in the play of act one) is a grammar school teacher who just doesn’t understand how He and She can even think about what they are doing.

The other fine performances in this production are by Jeffrey Carlson who handles four very funny charaters and  master of the farce, Ross Lehman as the Director and playwright ( of the second act). What takes place in this two hours plus of laugh filled zaniness is a behind the scenes look at an actors life as illustrated in a farcical way. These are caractures rather than characters and this production will certainly take your mind off anything else in your life as there is no time to lose focus as Ms Ruhls’ dialogue just keeps rolling off these actors tongues and the audiences roars continue to grow.

Directed by Jessica Thebus on a wonderful set by Todd Rosenthal, “Stage Kiss” is a solid production with only one small flaw. He and She. In many of the scenes, in particular in the early scenes, I did not see the chemistry that would make me believe that after all these years the memories of their past  would drive them back  together. In later scenes, it started to show and perhaps as they work together Bacon and Montgomery will in fact take on this missing ingredient. The sets are glorious, the lighting(James F. Ingalls), the costumes(Linda Roethke) and the sound ( Andre J. Pluess), the direction solid and the acting ( with this little exception) is top notch. For those of you who have ever been involved in the theater, you might see some very familiar scenes.

This is a play about actors- who they are and who they pretend to be and where is the separation between make believe and reality. I promise you a laugh-filled evening of theater at The Goodman Theatre’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Stage Kiss” on the Albert stage through June 5th with performances as follows:

Tuesday, Wednesday an dThursday evenings at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.-matinees are Thursdays(thru 5/26) , Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and Sunday evenings , except 5/29 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $25-$78 and are available at the box office located at 170 N. Dearborn, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org

There are some student tickets at $10 for every performance 10TIX as well as MezzTix at half price- both subject to availability on day of performances-10TIX are with student ID only

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