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Or You Could Kiss Me

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Taking us into the future to reflect on the past, Or You Could Kiss Me is set in the South Africa of 2036. The story of gay lovers who have spent their lives together since meeting as teenagers, we see stories from the lives of Handspring's founders Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler littered through Neil Bartlett's script.

As a piece we constantly drift through time, as Mr A and Mr B face the inevitability of death, we see the couple meet for the first time, having swum out to a diving platform. A young Mr B's initial dive into the "water" of the Cottesloe stands apart as a moment of magical puppetry, manipulating the carved figure to show the effortlessness of cutting through the water.

The piece struggles to find a clear narrative, with Adjoa Andoh making a strong attempt to keep things on track as the omnipotent authority figures of lawyer, doctor and housekeeper in the couple's life, addressing the characters both directly and through microphones, removing herself from the narrative.

There were a number of points, particularly towards the end, where I found myself wondering if the play would have worked without puppetry. I have to reflect yes, Bartlett's script captures a deeply human relationship, which would have succeeded if delivered by actors or the beautiful crafted puppets, which were at times left feeling empty and slightly lifeless. The dramatic first kiss was notably anticlimactic, with the crush of puppeteers centre-stage appearing more like a rugby scrum with pornographic voiceover than a passionate love scene.

What this play does accomplish is an exploration of the emotional damage that necessities such as wills can inflict on a relationship when the end becomes apparent. The harrowing line from which the piece draws its title, delivered by Mr B to his emphysema-weakened lover, "or you could kiss me, there does have to be a last time," encapsulates this entirely.


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