In New Village Arts' Stage Kiss, actors Amanda Morrow and John DeCarlo spend more time making out than a couple of horny teenagers behind the high-school gym. Fun for them. Mostly fun for the audience, although this romantic comedy about a pair of ex-lovers who are reunited as co-stars in a laughably bad period (1930s) play is spotty.
There's so much of the laughably bad play—most of the first act—that one tends to forget the offstage plight of the ex-lovers, whom playwright Sarah Ruhl named She and He. That choice possibly implies that She and He's conundrum could happen to anyone, at least anyone in theater: falling for a co-star with whom you exchange spit multiple times a show, multiple nights a week for who knows how long a run.
As the tale unfolds, the actress becomes so obsessed with the actor (and vice versa) that she leaves her husband, and though their play is a flop, they flee to Detroit to star in a wacky production that casts them as a New Yawk hooker and a brogue-employing IRA operative. The two cartoonish plays-within-a-play allow supporting actors including Daren Scott (as a director) and Brian Butler (as a stage manager / actor) to overplay their parts for big laughs—and they get them. The naturally funny Morrow is a comic chameleon of accents, wigs and rapidly interchanging emotions. DeCarlo is saddled with the less sympathetic role, but the part of hormone-driven He has to rank as one of his most enjoyable gigs. Watch for Christina Flynn in the scene-stealing role of He's schoolteacher girlfriend.
Under the direction of Chelsea Kaufman, Stage Kiss is much crisper in the second act, and Ruhl's dialogue is sophisticated enough that the predictable resolution of She and He's love affair is altogether satisfying, even as mushy as She and He at their mushiest. Enjoying the road to that resolution will depend on your appetite for sight gags and meta-theatrical zaniness. If, for example, you are enchanted when Morrow, DeCarlo, Flynn and Dallas McLaughlin (playing She's husband) suddenly break into a rendition of "Some Enchanted Evening," then Stage Kiss is winning you over. If, on the other hand, you wish you were seeing South Pacific instead, then this particular kiss is too slobbery.
Stage Kiss runs through March 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $33-$42. newvillagearts.org
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea: A staged reading of a play about two strangers, Danny and Roberta, who meet in a bar and confront their demons together. Presented by San Diego Actors Theatre, it happens at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the University of San Diego's Crivello Theatre. sdactorstheatre.net
Into the Woods: The classic musical that debuted at The Old Globe Theater in 1986 this time gets a treatment by Pickwick Players. It opens Feb. 20 at Off Broadway Live in Santee. pickwickplayers.net
The Marriage of Bette and Boo: Christopher Durang's play covers three decades of turmoil-plagued matrimony and separation between the title characters, narrated by their son. Presented by the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance, it opens Feb. 20 in UCSD's Arthur Wagner Theatre. theatre.ucsd.edu
Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play: In the aftermath of nuclear catastrophe, survivors recount an episode of The Simpsons. Seven years later, they're a Simpsons performance group. Decades later, people have sort of become Simpsons characters. Presented by the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance, it opens Feb. 18 in UCSD's Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre. theatre.ucsd.edu
Old Times: There's something very mysterious about a married couple and the old friend, a woman, who comes to visit. This staged reading, presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company; happens Feb. 23 at the Encinitas Library. intrepidshakespeare.com
Ryes: A museum in post-Katrina Louisiana opens an exhibition of Civil War artifacts, but they might not be authentic. Presented by Ion Theatre, it opens Feb. 19 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
The Addams Family: A musical version of the creepy and kooky '60s TV series has daughter Wednesday all grown up and bringing her new love home to dinner. Presented by Star Repertory Theatre (all-youth), it runs through Feb. 22 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. starrepertorytheatre.com
San Diego, I Love You: Circle Circle Dot Dot takes you on a site-specific theatrical journey around the UCSD campus, where you watch a love story between two students unfold. Through Feb. 22, starting at the Hopkins Parking Structure at UCSD. circle2dot2.com
Talley's Folly: A one-act play about a man who shows up uninvited in 1944 to ask a woman he'd met the previous summer to marry him. Through Feb. 22 at Point Loma Actors Theatre. pointlomaactors.com
Trouble in Mind: In 1955, black actors struggle with their roles in a Broadway play-within-a-play that's produced and directed by white men. Through Feb. 22 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. moxietheatre.com
DNA New Work Series: La Jolla Playhouse hosts two weeks' worth of workshopped plays and staged readings of new material by emerging writers, giving the public a chance to see how these pieces are developed. Through March 1. lajollaplahouse.org
Murder at the Howard Johnson's: A slapstick comedy about a plan by woman and her lover to off her husband. Through March 1 at The Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Murder for Two: In this musical, one actor plays a detective, and another plays 10 different people who are suspected of murdering a famous novelist during his birthday party. Through March 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Sondheim on Sondheim: A revue of the legendary composer's work, featuring two-dozen classic tunes. Presented by Moonlights Stage Productions, it runs through March 1 at Avo Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Stage Kiss: In this farce, two actors with a romantic past are cast in a play about two people with a romantic past. Through March 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
This: In this comedy, a group of friends struggle with their demons and confront middle age. Through March 1 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
West Side Story: It's pretty much Romeo and Juliet, but in 1950s New York City—and there's singing and dancing. Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through March 1 at Spreckels Theatre, Downtown. sdmt.org
The Darrell Hammond Project: Darrell Hammond, the longest-tenured cast member in the history of Saturday Night Live, tells his own life story in a one-man show. Through March 8 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Adult actors play quirky middle-school students in a musical comedy about a spelling contest. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through March 15 in the Performing Arts Center at San Marcos High School. intrepidshakespeare.com
The Twenty-seventh Man: It's 1952, and Stalin has jailed 26 luminaries of Yiddish literature. The story truly begins when No. 27 arrives behind bars. Through March 15 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.com
The Grift at the Lafayette Hotel: Director Tom Salamon's latest immersive theater experience takes audiences in and out of various rooms and other spaces inside one of San Diego's coolest hotels. Presented by La Jolla Playhouse, it runs through March 22 at the Lafayette Hotel in University Heights. lajollaplayhouse.org
You Can't Take it with You: Zany characters abound, and kooky things keep happening, in the home of Paul and Penny Sycamore. Through March 22 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: In a musical based on a biblical tale, a dude who has an "amazing" garment becomes a slave, but he triumphs in Egypt regardless. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through March 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
Win Place or Die My Jockeys are Killing Me: Mystery Café's latest comic-caper dinner-theater production is set at the Thoroughbred Club at Upson Down Race Track. It's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net