Second review

Our first bad review.  Ouch!

The 2010 review of the debut was very positive, and the Vue gave us 4 stars in its review, so it was an unpleasant surprise to only get 2 stars in the Journal's review by Gordon Kent. So, two reviewers liked it, and Mr. Kent? …not so much.  I guess it's a matter of taste; it's just not his cup or tea.

Still, I'm a bit miffed by Mr. Kent's suggestion the play's entire context is unrealistic. Firstly, many fringe plays are whole-heartedly unrealistic, and secondly, the script's inspiration came from an actual, true, real life event.  Years ago an auditioning actor turned down a role because she did not want her first kiss to be on stage. At the time I was annoyed, as I wanted to give her the part, but I was also intrigued.  Her first kiss was very important to her, what if she had accepted the role?

A first kiss isn't going to change history (at least not typically), but it is a first, it does have a place.  This light, little comedy plays with that notion, and does not pretend to do anything more.  The other reviewers were able to judge the play in its own context, and they gave comments like:

"a really adorable little piece"   "clever plot and earnest performances"   "had me nearly on the floor"   "hilarious … and immeasurably sweet"   "utterly charmed"   "adept script engages from start to sweet, sweet finish"

Where they so wrong?  No, I think they took the play for what it was.  They didn't demand something dark and disturbing, or an emphasis on strong social commentary, or no-holds-barred improv, or an exploration of something forbidden.  Kiss Within A Kiss is just a good little comedy, with decent acting, with a modest set à la fringe, which (at least before Mr. Kent's review) everyone really seems to like.

First review

We were in the first wave of Fringe reviews, and we got 4 STARS!
That first review is here.

Opening night

Good opening yesterday at the Fringe.  Before the show we were a bit concerned because fringe crowds were light and no one was buying tickets yet.  Some of the other plays had audiences of less than a dozen, one said their's had an audience of only 3!  Our pre-sales weren't much better, but apparently the Fringe takes a little while to get rolling, and most people buy their tickets just before the performance.  We were relieved to end up with an opening show audience of 42, and even more relieved when the audience started laughing (this is good, since it's a comedy).

More good news: Sunday's advance ticket sales are already looking much better.  I'm not sure how much of that is from promoting (handing out Hershey's Kisses when we tell people about our play) or how much is from word of mouth.  Probably a mix of the two.

Review of 2010 debut

The 2010 debut of Kiss Within A Kiss didn't exactly shake the international theatre scene, but it did get a decent local review.

The complete review covered the entire 2010 Cradle to Stage production.  To see the complete review, scroll down to the link.  Otherwise, here it is the portion pertaining to our play, reprinted with the permission of the reviewer, Alix Kemp:

"Kiss Within a Kiss

Kiss Within a Kiss is a really adorable little piece about a girl who is about to have her first kiss — as part of a play. I think part of what makes this piece so charming is the play within a play within a play aspect; the audience is, in a sense, watching three separate performances simultaneously. This becomes particularly apparent during a prop malfunction early on in the piece; it only later becomes clear that this small failure is completely scripted.

The writing here is much stronger than in the first piece, and the two main actors, Stephany Wigston (Kathy, cast in the role of Julie) and David Johnston (Shawn, cast in the role of Ramsey), do an excellent job of balancing their dual roles. Wigston is especially convincing both as Kathy and as Julie.

My main problem with the piece, I think, came from my upbringing in the American midwest: I’m familiar with the real versions of the southern accents adopted by the characters of Julie and Ramsey, so I naturally notice when they aren’t quite perfect. Ramsey’s accent in particular didn’t quite hit the mark. This would be unforgivable if we were actually watching the play within a play, Swindled Love. But because we’re far more interested in the character of Shawn, who I’m willing to believe just can’t quite pull off that southern drawl, it works. And while I’d normally be all for dropping an accent that doesn’t quite work, it does actually add an important element to the play’s final moment, making the whole thing even more poignant and sweet than it might have been otherwise.

The humour throughout the whole thing was well-done; Kathy’s somewhat over-the-top descriptions of first kisses that didn’t quite happen had me nearly on the floor, as did Shawn’s embarrassment over a previous, far more erotic, play he’d performed in. And while Myra (played by Amanda Blair), Swindled Love’s bitchy stage manager, doesn’t have a role within the secondary play, she does an excellent job being incredibly abrasive, and exceptionally funny."

Reprinted with permission of the rights holder, Alex Kemp.

For the complete 2010 Cradle to Stage review go here.

One month away

Rehearsals are going well, though we had to postpone and rearrange a couple because of conflicts with work.  The poster proof is ready, and good news -- no spelling mistakes!
Today I'm pondering costume issues:
   How much time and money do we want to spend on costumes?
   How does a con artist dress?
   Would a diner waitress wear her uniform away from work?
   Since the play depicts a rehearsal, should the actors just wear rehearsal
   clothes instead?  Or is it a dress rehearsal?
Maybe each detail matters to only a few audience members, but audience reactions are contagious.  It pays to get the details right.  The better we do, the more the audience comes along for the ride.

39 days and counting

The play is cast, rehearsals have started, finally we have a web site, but there's still plenty of details to sort out.  We have most of the larger set pieces (tables, chairs), some of the smaller props.  Still need a diner counter (probably build that) as well as a handful of set detail.  Must remember KISS principle (Keep It Simple; Silly) as we only get 15 minutes to set up before curtain.   Jim H.

© Jim Herchak 2012