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Theater: 'Stage Kiss' is authentic

Jessica Hecht stars in "Stage Kiss," which features a play within a play.

Stage Kiss Jessica Hecht Catch Jessica Hecht in "Stage Kiss" before March 23 at Playwrights Horizons.
Credit: Joan Marcus

Playwright Sarah Ruhl's acute sense of whimsy comes through once again in “Stage Kiss” at Playwrights Horizons.

In this new work, which features a play within a play, she weaves an imagined 1930s melodrama into her 2014 comedy. The former is a real heart-string tugger: Its heroine, with only a month to live, has an affair right under her husband's nose with the love of her youth, who's returned from Sweden to be at her side.

Of course, the actor and actress playing the lovers, known only as He (Dominic Fumusa) and She (Jessica Hecht), were intimate in their youth and rekindle the flame. Unlike Ada, the heroine of the melodrama, She is under no immediate threat of death, but both leading ladies have a teenage daughter along with wealthy husbands and passionate paramours.

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If “Stage Kiss” ends on the sentimental side, it’s easily forgiven. This is not a play that strives for gritty realism. Less cerebral than much of Ruhl’s other work, it goes for laughs and gets them.



'Stage Kiss'
Through March 23
Playwrights Horizons,
Mainstage Theater,
416 W. 42nd St.
$75-$95
www.phnyc.org
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