10:37 | 19th February 2019

Reviews: Live Shows

Wed 13 Oct, 2010
By Robert Ingham

an interesting story becomes even more arresting as it is brought to life by Handspring Puppet Company, who excelled with ‘War Horse’

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Or You Could Kiss Me - Review

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Or You Could Kiss Me, in the Cottesloe Theatre at the National Theatre, is an evocative and emotional semi-autobiographical story of a gay elderly couple – one suffering from emphysema, the other his (now) carer – and depicts their life from true events when they first met in South Africa in 1971 to their fictional, but no less moving, twilight days in 2036.

Already an interesting story becomes even more arresting as it is brought to life by Handspring Puppet Company, who excelled with ‘War Horse’. Here, instead of animals, they have created two sets of virtually life-sized puppets, Mr A and Mr B – one set is the elderly couple, the second their younger selves. Both pairs are outstanding and, when on stage at the same time, a Dorian Gray-esque moment is brought to the production, showing the audience how frail our bodies are, and how frail they become.

Of course, being puppets, they are unable to speak so the puppeteers bring the script, and their movements, to life. It is undeniable the incredible love they have for their puppets and they handle them with almost balletic poise, especially when their younger selves literally dive and swim around them in flashbacks.

There are some wonderful moments that glow in this production – a party scene so inviting you feel part of the action, the protective family pet and a car journey that floats around the set. However, the character that glues the entire show together is Adjoa Andoh, who plays a variety of roles from the nurse in the hospital to the old men’s cook. Adjoa has appeared in shows such as Dr Who, Eastenders and Brass Eye, and it is her characterisations that make Or You Could Kiss Me even more watchable. She shines on stage and without her a certain depth and warmth to the show would have been lacking.

My one criticism involves the suspension of disbelief. You are invited into Mr A and Mr B’s lives and, as puppets, this is already asking your imagination to do extra work. Unfortunately sometimes there are as many as 5 puppeteers working on them that, as you find yourself being drawn in by the puppets captivating black, almost soulless, eyes, the spell is broken by a puppeteer walking in front. Granted, the handlers double up for various roles, like hospital nurses, but it is diverting and, occasionally, you may find yourself wondering what this show could have been without the puppets.

Having said that the story was always intended to be told this way. It is highly original, almost experimental in places, and is a true indictment of what happens when the imagination is allowed to take flight.

Or You Could Kiss Me is on at the Cottesloe Theatre at the National until 18th November.
Length is approximately 1hr 50 minutes with no interval.
Tickets - £10-£32
Free tickets for 15-25yr olds with Entry Pass (find out more about Entry Pass here


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