Stop Kiss Credit: Patrick McLean

To be queer and in love in a 90s play is a pitiable fate. At best, characters who express romantic interests outside of heteronormative societal expectations are forced to live their truth in shameful secrecy or as a risky act of public defiance. At worst, by violence or sickness or despair, they’re issued a death sentence. Lest anyone think Diana Son’s ubiquitous 1998 one-act romantic drama is dated, though, it is worth remembering that the recent London bus assault on two women—an attack that eerily mirrors Stop Kiss‘s plot two decades on—occurred less than a year ago.

A jaded traffic reporter (Flavia Pallozzi) makes a connection and offers to cat-sit for a friend-of-a-friend (Kylie Anderson), who is excited and naive and new to the big city. Intimate, chemistry-rich, well-acted moments of courtship and stolen glances and humorously clumsy attempts at initiating sex are juxtaposed throughout against the repercussions of a gruesome gay bashing. Kanomé Jones’s Arc Theatre and Pride Film and Plays coproduction features some questionable coding in the casting of ancillary characters and doesn’t quite overcome the less convincing edges of Son’s text—namely an overly quippy, hard-boiled detective straight out of Law & Order: SVU—but Anderson and Pallozzi are deeply affecting as lovers coming to terms with their identities and their desire for true love, consequences be damned.  v