Here's a sample of the fantastic review for "Kiss the Boys":
Review of Kiss the Boys by Alexandra Bonifield
Kiss those boys and make them laugh! Multi-talented Dallas theatre professional Mark-Brian Sonna has penned and mounted yet another entertaining and irreverent gem of a play at Addison’s Stone Cottage. Kiss The Boys, a two-act farce, features a plot that turns on poison kissing and deadly martinis. The “best-laid plans” of a murderous gay couple are set awry by the unheralded arrival of a loud, dizzy dame, clutching the arm of the “reformed” former lover of one of the lethal schemers. Full kissing between men, fondling, spicy dialogue, a partial striptease and controversial discussion of death and (so-called) traditional religious values suit this production to the tastes of progressive, adventurous audiences. Ribald jokes, wicked puns, a provocative striptease by a flaming queen, lightning fast repartee between lovers and exes and the brassy broad’s blunt commentary on the bizarre evening’s proceedings all contribute to this truly hilarious entertainment. Mr. Sonna wrote, directed and produced the farce as well as stars convincingly as the play’s one sympathetic character, Yavar, a successful but flighty Turkish businessman with really bad luck in choice of lovers. Jordan Willis, as the Turk’s diabolical lover Richard, delivers a “straight” performance in perfect counterpoint to Sonna’s effusiveness, much as Pierce Brosnan might do cast as Sean Connery’s lover.
DJ Smith’s performance as the flaming queen in skintight black pants and scarlet tennis shoes, who gets high on the poison martinis and floats into an over the top striptease before succumbing, is utterly delicious, presenting a ferocious, sexy romp worth savoring all by itself. Masterful performer Paula Wood, as Luli, the ‘reclaimed” gay lover’s date, commands the stage and calls the shots, literally and figuratively, and has the funniest dialogue and gag bits and makes the most of her performance. Her Carol Burnett quality and perfect comic timing round out the show; her delivery of asides, such asmentioning going to an opera called “The Magic Tooth”, is totally hysterical. James Hargrave’s doomed, mild-mannered Doug, “reclaimed” from his sinful years as Richard’s lover, doesn’t stand a chance when confronted with such orchestrated bedlam gone wild.
It’s a refreshing delight to see a well-written farce focused on gay relationships. Cinematic art this year explored gay lifestyles with a gritty sincerity and realistic depth never reached before in American mainstream works, but the lighter side also merits presentation. In Kiss the Boys, the characters’ sexual orientation contributes to the hilarity of the farce, but doesn’t dominate. For a really good time, attend Mark-Brian Sonna’s Kiss the Boys at the Stone Cottage adjacent to the Water Tower Theatre in Addison. It runs through April 9. For tickets, visit www.kisstheboys.us 214-477-4942
Alexandra Bonifield is an independent arts writer and advocate, a recent California transplant.
Here's an interview that appeared in the Dallas Voice on August 19, 2005:
Stage - It’s pretty, but is it art?
Out actor Mark-Brian Sonna lives the confusion of his character in ‘Art’
By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer
The more Mark-Brian Sonna spends with the script to “Art” [Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning play] the more he seems to “get” it. But the irony is, “getting it” doesn’t mean reaching a final understanding, it’s merely coming to accept that some things aren’t meant to be fully understood.
This epiphany came during a rehearsal for the play, which opened last night at Deep Ellum’s Hub Theater. The three actors in it — Sonna, Tim Shane and Howard Winningham — were discussing a scene.
“All three of us were approaching it from three different angles,” Sonna says. “And each time, one would explain it, the others would say, ‘Oh, yeah, I can see that.’”
That’s when the revelation hit him: They were all right. And that applies in life and art.
“I may perceive my life a certain way, but as you look at my life you may see something different,” he explains. “But it’s not up to you to tell me that my life is not good enough.”
Sonna compares life to a Matisse painting: You can appreciate it without approving of it.
Such heady discussions tend to be the natural outgrowth whenever “Art” is involved. Ever since its American debut in 1998, the play has galvanized audiences, actors and critics alike, who have debated what it means. People tend to speak of it in Freudian terms, as if each of the characters — Serge, Marc and Yvan — represents one of the three components of the psyche, battling for dominance.
The plot revolves around the purchase by Serge of a monochromatic painting — a canvas of stark, stark white that may or may not have three white lines on it. Is it a brilliant achievement in neo-Dadaism or simply modernism run pointlessly amok? Is Serge a canny investor, or has he just bought the entire fall line of the emperor’s new clothes?
Nothing gets resolved, Sonna says, but that’s as it should be. There is more to be learned in the asking than in the answering.
Sonna has been asking questions a lot lately. Doing the play has made him think more about art, in all its forms, than he has in years. Sonna is the co-proprietor (with his partner Larry Groseclose) of Mark and Larry’s Stuff — “purveyors of nonessential merchandise,” he call it. Accordingly, he’s a professional collector of knickknacks, doodads and tchotchkes. He speaks spiritedly about painters from Renoir to Thomas Kinkeade, but also about great literature — including, he insists, this play.
“The language in the play is so absolutely precise. The last time I did something like that was Shakespeare,” he says. “Words seem like throwaway comments are really this weird tapestry of cohesion. There’s a set vocabulary but the meanings change from scene to scene, and from person to person.”
He stresses, though, that the tone of the play, ultimately, is comic — it’s meant to make audiences laugh, “Because there’s enough seriousness in the world already,” he says.
As if to prove that life imitates art, Sonna says that the cast seems to be going through the exact same issues as the characters they are playing.
“The characters are all middle-aged, just like we are. Yvan’s issues in the play are mirroring my issues right now. Tim, who’s playing Serge, says the Hub Theater, which he owns, is like his white painting. All three of us are hitting this play on such personal notes,” Sonna explains.
That will take an even odder turn during the run of the show. As a clever gimmick, Shane and the director, Pat Reiger, came up with the idea of having each of the actors swap roles throughout the run. By the time it’s all over, each will have played all three roles.
Although Sonna been acting for more than 20 years (on stage and television), he has never switched roles like this before. But he has full confidence in the experiment.
“It’ll be hard to give up Yvan because I’m so like that character,” Sonna says. “But in a way, it’s almost easier when the character is different from you. And Reiger’s young but amazing — he has such faith in us.”
And art always requires a leap of faith.
Dallas Hub Theater, 2809 Canton St. Through Sept. 10. Thu.-Sat, at 8 p.m. $15-$25. 214-749-7010.
Read what Mark-Brian has to say about his car, driving, and traffic! Here is an electronic reprint of an irreverent interview published in the May 27, 2005 issue of the Dallas Voice:
Who: Mark-Brian Sonna
Occupation[s]: Actor. Also the purveyor of non-essential merchandise as co-owner of Mark & Larry’s Stuff.
Car: 1999, VW Beetle Bug, silver
Purchased from: Park Cities VW
Were you a tough negotiator? There was no negotiating. At the time, it was the only car on the lot. The Beetles were hot and hard to come by. I went in to trade my Jeep Wrangler for another Wrangler, but was disappointed in the new “softer” Jeeps. The VW they ordered was for someone whose financing fell through. Two people were waiting to see if I would buy it.
How much did you settle on? The full sticker price.
Insurance agent: State Farm, Les Taylor.
Monthly insurance rate? Just under $100 a month.
Why this car? It was geometry: The original Jeep Wrangler was a big square tank. I traded for a circular shape.
Favorite feature: Although I love the flower vase, the back seat folds down to become a hatchback.
Anything interesting in your glove box? Pieces of scripts. Pages of scripts fall out and I end up stuffing in them in the glove box. I keep meaning to clean it out, but never have.
Do you have a buff sound system? It’s a fancy one, but can’t remember who made it. On certain songs, I’ll up the volume, and make the entire car thump.
Car nickname: Alexander, or Alex for short. All my cars have been nicknamed this. I’ve even used it as a pseudonym.
Describe your car’s personality? It’s hard to be butch in a VW bug. But it’s kind of sexy, in a bubble butt way.
Worst flat tire: They were resurfacing Lemmon Avenue and one of those metal planks that covers the road shifted. It flattened the tire, reshaped the rim and cracked the axle.
Worst intersection in Dallas: All of them. No one pays attention to pedestrian crossings. Everyone forgets that pedestrians have the right of way — especially when the sign says “walk.”
Most ridiculous car repair: The Beetle gas-tank latch quit functioning. They can’t just replace the latch, they have to replace the wire that attaches itself to the latch, too Because of the labor involved, VW makes it so complicated that simple repairs cost way too much.
Thought that races through my head when I’m racing through a yellow light? Oops, I did it again!