Saturday, 10 June 2017
Review Kiss Me
by Richard Bean
In this enigmatic and delicate one-act play Richard Bean reverses the film censorship in the years following the First World War.
While both the silent movies and the talkies eschewed the physical realities of intercourse in favour of the iconic cinematic kiss, the couple in Kiss Me find themselves subject to a different kind of censorship by the woman doctor who has brought them together.
The stiff upper lip son of a manufacturer with interests in the West Indies and a woman munitions' driver with a Louise Brooks' bob meet for the first time in her bedsit.
We spy on the couple, learning the surprising reason for the meeting. The play then runs perhaps a little predictably as writer Richard Bean divvys up the pair's background, but it would be churlish to give away the initial surprise.
Suffice to say the scenario involves a process, found in the bible and the subject of speculation and royal intrigues, recorded as practised at least since the 19th century, even though it may have been often carried out in an unethical rather than cooperative manner.
The direction by Anna Ledwich and the performances of Claire Lams, demure in box pleat skirt, blouse and cardigan, and Ben Lloyd-Hughes in city gent three-piece-suit, bowler hat and umbrella are seductive with the whoosh of almost a ghost story.
This seductiveness draws us away at times from some surely deliberate discrepancies. Set, according to the programme, in the year of the Wall Street Crash, 1929, there is a time travelling feel to the script and social stigma seems more of hinderance than money.
There are also echoes of literary and screen references from Lady Chatterley's Lover to the apparently very-much-in the-future Brief Encounter. The man glancing at a fob watch and the simple but effective set design by Georgia Lowe with three large mirrors tarnished at the edges, behind a double bed, also seem to point towards the two Lewis Carroll "Alice" books.
There is, maybe, a very light touch subtext of travelling through political history as well. However the central preoccupation is also very 21st century.
Perhaps it's a piece which doesn't bear too much cold-light-of-day analysis as to how it all hangs together. Nevertheless, it did charm during our brief 75 minute acquaintance with it and it's a green light.