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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Theatre - Or You Could Kiss Me - National Theatre

Star rating – 5/10

Having loved the wonderful ‘War Horse’ earlier in the year, I was really looking forward to the latest puppetry magic by the Handspring Company at the National. ‘Or You Could Kiss Me’ is a very different affair, with an adult theme this time of the relationship between a white gay South African couple taking centre stage, as one succumbs to terminal illness in old age.

The puppetry is just as impressive as in the smash hit show the company is famous for. The puppets seem to move effortlessly with the puppeteers feeling their way around the stage and the story with ease. But while, with War Horse, the puppets were animals who obviously could not have been actors, this time the puppets are mainly humans, who really to be truthful might as well have been real actors. The one exception to this is the couple’s pet dog, who is lovable and comical and brilliantly brought to life by the puppet and the sound effects.

The story is told partly in flashback, partly in present day with real actors, and also in ‘flash forward’ to the reality of what their future together will bring. My problem was that the story did not draw me into the couple’s relationship emotionally enough to make me care very much about them. Adjoa Andoh is great as the narrator, playing a variety of parts very believably and skilfully throughout.

The puppetry was masterful, and the puppets were very effective, I just think they need a greater degree of emotional attachment with the audience, and a stronger story, to make the sort of magical connection that is needed to make this sort of production really come to life.

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