Kiss – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Did you ever feel like your life was a television soap opera and you couldn’t find the tv remote to change the channel or to shut it off? That lack of control and the idea of events spinning out like items caught in a tornado is devastating and filled with anxiety. Imagine for a moment you are a citizen earning a living in war torn Syria, trying to survive the madness and still maintain a semblance of a life. Playwright Guillermo Calderon is inviting you for a wild ride in an unstable world with Yale Repertory Theatre’s involving comedy/drama “Kiss” until Saturday, May 19.

Calderon is from Chile, where political unrest is part of the culture, writing the play while working in Germany, penning his first effort in English and setting it in Syria as a musalsalaat or soap opera for American audiences. Melodrama reigns supreme. Four long time friends are meeting at Hadeel’s (Sohina Sidhu) apartment to eat, drink and watch a soap opera. When Youssif (James Cusati-Moyer) arrives, it is clear he has issues to discuss. Although Hadeel is almost engaged to his best friend Ahmed (Ian Lassiter), Youssif has finally summoned the courage to announce to Hadeel that he loves her and wants her to be his wife. This incredible news is despite his long term relationship with Bana (Hend Ayoub), Hadeel’s best pal, truly a “sister.”

All this is just the first part of the story. Now it is time to look internally and discover the truth behind the words. The quartet contact the playwright for her insights, but reach her sister (Rasha Zamamiri) and her interpreter (Abubakr Ali) instead by Skype. The realities of living in Syria with chemical gases and gunshots are unveiled. The sister is speaking from a refugee camp with all its harshness and dangers. The truths are exposed as well as the secrets that each are hiding. Where does romantic love fit in to this lost country? The third part of the story exposes the raw facts of their lives in a fast forward montage of images.This is Damascus 2014 in all its broken pieces. Evan Yionoulis directs this exposed and damaged part of the world so it can be ignored no longer.

For tickets ($30-90), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Come discover what lurks beneath the surface in an unstable country where war and famine, murder and annihilation are all too common and accepted as the norm.