I have attended many plays over the years as a reviewer, but I have to admit, going to see Kiss was a very unusual experience. Firstly, as I opened my press kit, the first thing I saw was a paper with a message that stood out requesting those of us who write reviews to abstain from giving away the details of the plot. Fair enough, I often do this with plays that I feel it is not fair to tell too much to prospective attendees.
Secondly, to add to the mystery, upon entering the theater, I was informed that programs for the production would not be provided to audience members until after the performance, I presumed that this also had something to do with keeping the details secret until the end. Obviously, all of this made for the expectation of an intriguing play.
Kiss takes place in Damascus, Syria, in 2014. In Syria, soap operas are very popular, and four friends are meeting for a party at the home of Hadeel / Andrea (Kristin Couture) to watch a soap opera. Hadeel’s friends are Ahmed / Martin (Max Lloyd-Jones) the young man she is planning to marry, Youssif / Daniel (Kevin Matthew Reyes), who also loves Hadeel, and Bana / Laura (Natali Anna) Youssif’s girlfriend. This could be a strange situation, and it turns out to be, not only strange but very hectic as well. It is almost like a comedy until a strange thing happens. One of the friends drops dead!
The next scene is a complete change, more mysterious, more complex, and more political with the four characters interviewing the Syrian woman (Cyntia Yelle) who wrote the soap opera. She is wearing a disguise, and is speaking through a woman (Nagham Webbe) who is her interpreter. I cannot delve into too much more about the play, because frankly, I had a difficult time digesting it and wondered most of the time what was happening.
Kiss was written by Guillermo Calderon and I applaud the fact that he took on this serious problem that all of the world should face, but I would have liked to have seen it told in a less complex manner. The cast and director Bart DeLorenzo did an excellent job with a rather difficult scenario.
Kiss is playing at the Odyssey Theatre Fridays and Saturdays at 8 M, Sundays at 2 PM, with additional performances Wednesdays, May 27 and June 7 at 8 PM, through June 18. The theater is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are available by calling (310) 477-2055, or online at www.OdyssseyTheatre.com.