‘Beautifully calibrated & ferociously emotive study of love & loneliness’: KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN – Menier Chocolate Factory

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Menier Chocolate Factory, London – until 5 May 2018

Despite playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory, this version of Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman is not Kander and Ebb’s 1993 musical, just so you’re clear. What it is, is a beautifully calibrated and ferociously emotive study of love and loneliness and what, if anything, masculinity means.

This new adaptation by José Rivera and Allan Baker casts right back to the original novel, jettisoning memories of the 1985 film too, to trace the burgeoning relationship between two cellmates. Political prisoner Valentin and sexual deviant Molina have little in common but through their shared trials, something beautiful thrives.

A pained beauty comes from Molina’s recounting of his favourite films as a distraction technique. Enhanced by stunning projection work from Andrzej Goulding, these play out on the surprisingly vast expanse of space created by Jon Bausor’s sparsely institutional design to create a tangible depth of lyrical escapism

And Laurie Sansom’s astutely cast production shimmers and shivers in the quality of its performances. Samuel Barnett’s defiantly queer Molina is beautifully judged in his openness and in his complexities and the way in which Declan Bennett details the crumbling certainties of his strapping Valentin is sensitively done indeed.

Rivera and Baker’s adaptation does focus more on the personal than the political, so this does feel very much like the story of these two men rather than a searching insight into the LGBTQ experience in Latin America. But with that in mind, it is a painstakingly evocative study of the power – and limits – of love.

 

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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