One thing can be certain about this new production at the Young Vic: it is visually impressive! Even from the moment you enter the auditorium you cannot fail to be amazed by Bunny Christie’s spectacular set: two huge plugs, a long big cable, sets of speakers on both stage left and right, and a slick white floor. If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me is indeed spectacular in terms of set design, light design by Andreas Fuchs and video design by Tim Ried. Yet, something is missing! One should definitely not expect to see a play or a musical when going for If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me. What director and choreographer Aletta Collins gives us is a concert! And this is what seemed awkward, audience being restricted in their seats, not being to move along the rhythm of Jane Horrocks’ singing. As she insightfully says in the beginning of the show, “to burst into song you have to be inspired” and the context in which this production was presented did not allow us to burst into song should we wish to; unfortunately it did not manage to take us on a ride.
The visually striking images on stage, aided by both the excellent ensemble and the very successful projection mapping, created a 1-hour long piece which was interesting and exciting. The choreography was at times lyrical and other times grotesque, but these fluctuations created visually interesting scenes. The swift transitions from song to song were aided by the very clean changes of set – where props, such as a fridge, were coming back on stage creating recurring images throughout.
Featuring the music of The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, The Human League, The Buzzcocks, Soft Cell and more, they have created a show about the pain of falling in love. As Jane Horrocks admits, everyone can or has fallen in love, so everyone should be able to understand and sympathize with these lyrics! Even though Horrocks does seem to enjoy her performance, at times she slips into an exaggeration which is way too much for what the audience seemed able to cope with. The irony is that the most striking moment of this whole spectacle was when Horrocks was alone on an empty stage, singing sat on a chair!
Jane Horrocks’ If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me is definitely something very different out there! The description “part gig, part dance piece” does indeed most accurately depict it. This is certainly a very rich, spectacular show. For one hour you it will keep you excited with the choreography, the tunes, the impressive lights and set, yet it fails to stick with you after the end of this hour.