It is hard to define this hour spent at the theatre. If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me doesn’t fit into any specific type of show. You can call it a gig, a happening, an event, or many other things, I’m sure. This indefinability is part of the magic of it.
The show is definitely a throwback to Jane Horrocks’s past, which is accomplished through music. Horrocks sings punk rock songs from the 1970s and 80s that obviously mean a lot to her. She is accompanied by two quartets: one of musicians, the other of dancers. Together, they create an epiphany about love, even though it is said in the beginning that love songs are what they are trying to run away from.
Synaesthesia is one of the keywords of this show. There is a huge appeal to your senses and the images are very strong. The set design is clever, and always surprising, while the lighting by Andreas Fuchs helps us to peek inside the world of the creators. It sets the atmosphere and helps the transition between songs, accentuating what the performers are trying to transmit through each song.
The choreography by Aletta Collins is breathtaking. There is a beautiful unity in all ensemble moments, where you can still see the identity of each dancer. The performers show unshakable technique, but very sensitive expression through their bodies, faces and voices, which make us start to believe that they are the characters of this little plot that Horrocks tries to share with us.
The usage of the space is also very well thought-out. Every little corner of the stage is explored and becomes an interesting place where action takes place. The musicians are brilliant. They present us new versions of famous songs by Buzzcocks and Joy Division, for example. “It is a new journey in each song”, like Kipper tells us in the programme. Horrocks’s performance itself is strong: her singing is not always perfect, but her connection with each note that she sings is moving.
However, the final result seems to be something that is codified and not easy for all kinds of audiences to follow, especially if you are young and have no connection with the music of this time. It is not very clear what the whole point of this creation is. Perhaps it is just a celebration of important music artists, or a new approach to combining different fields of art. Either way, I can’t help feeling that there was much more to be understood and felt, but I couldn’t find where the triggers to all the conclusions were.
In a short time, If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me becomes a conceptual piece with a lot of repetition, which surprises you only with some curious elements that pop up on stage here and there.
If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me is playing at the Young Vic until 2 April. For more information and tickets, see the Young Vic website. Photo: Johan Persson.