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The Richmond Triangle Players' "Stop Kiss" transcends the simplistic label of "gay theater." 

A Pivotal Peck

It would be easy to categorize "Stop Kiss" as another exhibit in the growing gallery of "homosexual theater." After all, it is being produced by the Richmond Triangle Players, a company that specializes in "gay plays." And its subject matter — the growing attraction between two women — sure seems to fit the bill.

But those who slap a simplistic label on this show are missing out on its greatest strength. This play dares to explore the gray area between hetero- and homo- where affection can transcend gender. This is an area ripe for comic exploitation and "Stop Kiss" generates plenty of laughs. But it also shows that a gray area can be dangerous territory, where hard decisions eventually have to be made.

For the character of Callie (Sara Heifetz), this is particularly problematic. Callie, a long-time New York resident, tends to swerve around obstacles in her life, trying to keep things simple. Though clearly falling in love with Sara (Alissa Orgurchak), a naive newcomer to the Big Apple, Callie denies her feelings until a horrific act of violence nearly kills Sara.

In the play, scenes from after the attack on Sara alternate with scenes showing the awkward beginning stages of their relationship. Orgurchak shines in the pre-attack scenes, projecting an honest innocence that is never forced or too precious. Heifetz comes alive in the post-attack scenes, clearly communicating a complex array of emotions as her character must deal with Sara's family and ex-husband, as well as her own uncertain feelings.

Director Richard St. Peter has put together a strong cast of supporting players and makes the most of Fieldens' small stage. The quick blackouts that end most scenes can be jarringly abrupt but they are part of St. Peter's firm style. He is just the kind of sure-handed guide needed for the challenging journey that is "Stop Kiss."

"Stop Kiss" runs at Fieldens Cabaret Theatre through Oct. 23. Tickets are $12. Call 346-8113 for
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