There’s an unusual dilemma that both audiences and reviewers are faced with at the conclusion of Stray Cat Theatre’s new season opener for 2017-18, Kiss by Guillermo Calderón. What can you say about a play where almost anything mentioned becomes a plot-spoiler? And if that’s the case, which it is, how do you explore its successes and failures as a play, or its achievements as a regional production without giving things away?
The answer, of course, is you don’t. You can’t. You can talk of the setup and its themes, and you can break off into discussions regarding whether we truly have the capacity to understand or see the culture of another without having personally experienced it. But to reveal what happens in each of the three very different acts, and to address how the second changes everything you thought you saw in the first is to do everyone who has yet to attend director Ron May’s uncomfortable thought-provoker a genuine disservice.
It’s not simply a case of having the rug pulled from under you, it’s as if that rug was covering a massive black hole, and once pulled, down you go, lost in your own madly careening thoughts of what is really going on as you discover why the play within the play was set in a living room, and what the real definition of the play’s title actually means.
If western minds are ever to learn how to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else and begin to understand what it is to alter a perspective and comprehend cultural differences, then here’s where you start, with Kiss at Stray Cat Theatre.