Charleroi Danses Kiss & Cry

  • Dance/Puppetry
  • By Michele Ann de May & Jaco Van Dormael
  • Creative team: Gregory Grosjean, Thomas Gunzig, Julien Lambert, Sylvie Olivé, Nicolas Oliver
  • Barbican Centre, London
  • Until 28th June 2014
  • Time: 19.45
  • Review by Katerina Yannouli
  • 26 June 2014
Charleroi Danses Kiss & Cry
4.0Reviewer's Rating

“There are those who have disappeared. Those we never see again.

There are those we once met and whom we never think of again.

Those we’ve loved and then forgotten.

And the ones we think of every day.”

Kiss & Cry is the story of Gisele – a lonely old woman looking back over the memories of her past loves, sitting on a bench in an empty train station. Because from her most memorable love, her first love that lasted only 15 seconds, she remembers only the fleeting touch and shape of the hands of the unknown boy, the whole story is danced entirely by hands.We learn that ‘kiss and cry’ is borrowed from figure skating – the name of the bench, where contenders wait to hear their scores, and we are invited to follow the score of Gisele’s life.

And yet it’s not as simple as that, Kiss & Cry is screened as it is being shot. Architecture mock-ups, transparent tanks, doll houses, roving cameras and Lego dolls are all used to tell the story. All used to create a world around the twirling, entwining and caressing hands. The set is visually split in two. The stage, where all the filming, dancing and special effects take place and a big overhead screen, where the film is projected in real time. Your attention is torn between the making of the film and the film itself, but what’s on screen feels more real.

In the choreographic invention of Michèle Anne de Mey and Grégory Grosjean the expressive ability of hands is explored in full. Their fingers act as legs or bodies. Their dance mimes romantic lovers, passionate sex, disco dancing, a tarantula, they even ice skate! They use simple and diverse means to tell a story. Despite the fact that the spectators are able to see all the techniques used in film-making the “spell” Kiss & Cry casts is still potent and absorbing.

The score ranges from Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga” to “Summertime” to “Les feuilles mortes,” and to “Nothing Compares To You” and Toby Regbo narrates, in English. Unfortunately, the narration is cluttered with melodramatic truisms and predictable jokes about the futility of love and life.

Kiss & Cry is a singular and poignant piece not to be missed, despite the narrative platitudes that hamper it.

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