It Felt Like a Kiss
3 July 2009 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews The first Manchester International Festival established a reputation for challenging productions in atmospheric venues. It Felt Like a Kiss continues this welcome approach and is so successful that it is hard to imagine it will ever be bettered. Director Felix Barrett's examination of the growth of America's influence and its detrimental effect upon the world takes place across five floors of the currently- vacant Quay House with groups admitted every 10 minutes. The promenade performance takes us through shaded (or just dark) corridors and rooms with the Kronos Quartet playing Damon Albarn's moody and disorienting score. The centrepiece is a film by Adam Curtis which, over a montage of 1950's icons (Rock Hudson and the like) and period music, illustrates the effect of the USA's policy of remaking the world in their preferred image and shows how this continues to have an impact today. Covering the time from the late 1950's to the building of the World Trade Centre the film points out how the HIV virus originated during the period and how the CIA's actions in destabilising governments gave rise to dictators who later became America's bogeymen. To reach the room where the film is shown, you pass through a series of stage sets.The content of some serve to puzzle (squeezing through tubes hanging from the ceiling) but others put us in scenes from, or leading up to, events which the film depicts. A partly filled suitcase in a half-lit family home could be that of a CIA operative on his way to the Bay of Pigs. An abandoned picnic, through which we pass, is shown as the site of an attempted homosexual pick-up. We hear reports from music stations that prepare us for the later analysis of the Kennedy assassination. The technique of making us participants in, rather than observers of, the events continues after the conclusion of the film with even more powerful results. The mood darkens and becomes actually frightening - in the fun sense of taking a ride on the ghost train. We undertake tests to assess post-traumatic stress and pass through zones contaminated by war and the hotel in which Martin Luther King was shot. American icon Stephen King remarked that if he failed to disturb his readers he would just scare their pants off. IFLAK does both. Having travelled through America's dark underbelly, we are brought face-to-face with one of its most enduring images: the bogeyman from horror movies. He proceeds (or at least we think he does) to chase us (complete with a chainsaw) through classic movie set pieces like darkened woods (one of the best effects of the whole evening). It is possible to be cool and ironic about interactive theatre but if you're running flat-out and screaming like a girl then you have become completely caught up in the thrilling experience. IFLAK is an imaginative development on a ride on a ghost train. It is both thought-provoking and utterly absorbing, but it is perhaps best enjoyed with a friend to grab as you cope with the scares. Even so, this is a wonderful and innovative piece of theatre that should not be missed! -Dave Cunningham Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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