If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Young Vic, Audio Introduction
Welcome to this audio introduction to If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me, conceived by Jane Horrocks and Aletta Collins.
The audio described performance at the Young Vic will take place on Saturday 2 April at 3pm. There will be a touch tour at 1pm. To book for the tour, please call the Young Vic box office on 0207 922 2922. This introduction will be repeated in the auditorium 10 minutes before the play starts. The show lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no interval. The audio description is by Eleanor Margolies and Kirstin Smith. This introduction will take about 10 minutes to listen to.
If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me is part gig, part dance piece, performed by Jane Horrocks, four dancers, and a band of four musicians. It combines the atmosphere and verve of a gig with precise choreographic routines, expressive movement and a highly stylised set designed by Bunny Christie.
Horrocks sings the new wave music that she grew up with in the 1970s and early ‘80s, including songs by Joy Division, New Order, The Human League, The Smiths, The Buzzcocks and Soft Cell, in new arrangements by musical director, Kipper. The title, If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me is a lyric from Soft Cell’s ‘The Girl With the Patent Leather Face’.
In the programme, critic Paul Morley describes the music scene in Manchester in 1976. He writes that the city was ‘still covered in war dust’, but the two Sex Pistols shows at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in the summer of that year ‘led to the actions that inspired the creative energy and community pride that pieced the city back together again. In the audience for the shows were Mark E Smith, Ian Curtis, Morrissey and Devoto, four of the greatest rock singers of all time, directly challenged to take things on’. The Buzzcocks were formed after the first Sex Pistols show, and gigged in new clubs opening ‘underground in cramped drinking dives or overground in grubby pubs and decaying bingo halls’. Morley writes of the Buzzcocks first EP: ‘the sleeve was black and white, the music was black and white, the landscape their songs occupied was black and white… the vivacious intelligence and dry, saucy wit was smuggled in behind the austerity’.
The set and costume for If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me, are bold and monochromatic, largely in black and white, with occasional pops of colour, scarlet and petrol blue. A few items of furniture suggest domestic life in the 1970s. The minimal set is also washed by floods of intense colour and video projections.
The stage is open to us as we come in, with bench seating on stalls level and on the balcony wrapping around the stage. A large rectangular opening at the back provides a frame for the action, with the black-painted side walls of the auditorium flaring out from it. A rectangular platform thrusts out through this black frame towards us – it’s about 6 metres wide and 12 metres front to back, raised about a metre above floor level. The platform is covered with a smooth grey vinyl surface.
At the very back of the space, there is an enormous double electrical socket, with two switches and a plug in the left-hand side. The socket is two metres high and four wide – giving the impression that we – and the performers - have shrunk to mouse size. The white plastic plug and socket are accurate in every detail, right down to the word ‘FUSED’ moulded into the casing of the plug and the metal screws holding the socket plate in place. A thick cable runs from the plug along the floor off to the right. To either side of the socket there are banks of theatre lights.
Moving forward towards the audience, sound and lighting equipment is massed on the floor to left and right of the platform – chunky speaker stacks, a dozen mics on stands, miscellaneous theatre lamps and anglepoise lights. Everything is made of black metal or plastic, used and slightly battered, like equipment in a untidy storeroom.
In some songs, a shimmering curtain of silvery strands glides across the black frame, hiding the rear part of the platform and the giant wall socket. Cut out letters four metres high, spelling out the word SHOW slide across, and light from behind casts projections of the letters onto the platform. Sometimes the edge of the platform is outlined by a glowing white line; at other times the edge strobes in fluorescent yellow.
Projections also appear on the floor to add a particular flavour to different songs: at one point a sea of flickering black and white pixels pours across the floor, like static on a 1970s TV; in another song, white lines stream up the platform and over the back wall; in the song ‘My House’, white lines appear on the floor, extending and turning corners to suggest walls on architectural plans, before dissolving into chaotic sine waves and strobing beams to reflect the texture of the music.
A few items of furniture are added to this monochromatic setting for specific songs. A table and chair with formica tabletop and vinyl upholstery, suggest a modest 1970s kitchen. A fridge-freezer slides in behind, the front decorated with colourful magnetic letters.
Jane Horrocks is in her early fifties, just over five foot tall and slightly built, with a platinum blonde bob and huge eyes outlined in kohl peeping out from under her heavy fringe. She first appears in a boilersuit of soft navy blue cotton and chunky black DM boots to mid-calf, worn with the laces loose. A small enamel red star badge is pinned near her collarbone.
Horrocks returns in a different outfit of tights, micro skirt and a white T-shirt with slashed details on the shoulders. The words FOR EVER are repeated down the front. With this she wears black pumps with thick white platform soles and a copper-coloured silk bomber jacket. She begins by speaking directly to the audience, standing at the mic with feet apart, one foot skewed off-kilter, but moves as she sings, even lying on her back, legs and arms in the air, ‘like a beetle on its back’ (referencing the Gang of Four song, Anthrax).
The four dancers are on stage throughout most of the performance: three men and one woman, all in their late twenties or early thirties. They incorporate a range of dance styles and movements, sometimes highly precise, contemporary dance techniques, and at other times, loose, playful movements, full of punkish attitude. The choreography incorporates high, precise leg raises and spins, rolls on the floor, rounding and arching backs. The dancers switch between these smooth, undulating movements, and stiff, mechanical ones. They hold their bodies in taut planks, then drop them in lustreless slumps. Their limbs twitch, strange and insect-like. The choreography also includes everyday movements, the dancers sometimes playfully acting out lyrics of songs, such as holding up their hands as phones or clutching their groins. Often the dancers’ bodies become entangled in a sweaty, thrusting mass. Their facial expressions are similarly punk inflected: curling lips, confrontational glares, feverish rolls of the eyes, twitches, and mischievous smiles.
Dances include series in unison, short solos, and also dramatic interplays suggestive of lust and heartbreak. Sometimes the dancers manoeuvre mic stands, join Horrocks in song, or enfold her in their movements, her slight frame rolling over theirs or dropping back as they take her weight.
Though impassioned and often surprising, all of the dancers’ movements seemed to be performed with an eyebrow raised — the dancers keep their distance, even when entwined in a deep kiss or contorting their faces in expressions of punkish rage.
The dancers wear various versions of a contemporary, new wave influenced style that would not be out of place in a band today — polo-necks or shirts buttoned up to the top, and trousers or leggings in muted, monochrome shades.
The female dancer, Lorena Randi, is athletic and slight, with a thick brown fringe, tied back short hair and an olive skinned face with prominent cheek bones and no make-up. She wears a grey, short-sleeved poloneck, short black wrap-around skirt with a thin, petrol blue border, over grey and black leggings, and black socks. She has a nonchalant, ludic air; at one point she strolls in snacking on crisps.
One of the male dancers, Conor Doyle, sometimes interacts with her in a manner suggestive of lovers in the throes of a relationship. Lorena and Conor lean towards each other across the kitchen table and chair, the fridge-freezer in the background, they confront each other, or lie side by side on the floor as if on a bed. He has brown hair swept to the side in a trendy style and an impish, pale, clean-shaven face. Doyle wears a white, short-sleeved shirt buttoned to the top, black Adidas joggers with white stripes, and red socks. Sometimes, he makes his eyes dance side to side and waggles his tongue at us as he moves.
Michael Walters is very tall, lithe and long limbed, with a deep arch in his back and sashaying walk, accentuated by his black leggings and knee-high black and white football socks. On top, Walters wears a black blazer over a white tshirt. He has dark, very short hair, light brown skin and an elegant, clean-shaven face with a pointed chin. Daniel Hay-Gordon, on the other hand, is short, delicate and neat, with very precise movements often based on classical ballet. He wears a black suit, white shirt and skinny black tie, with contrasting, petrol blue socks. Hay-Gordon has short, straight light brown hair, freckles and a stubbly, pale face.
The members of the band are only gradually revealed through the performance. The drummer Rat Scabies, a founder member in 1976 of punk band The Dammed, is seated at his drum kit behind a Perspex screen. He has a solemn, schoolmasterly air, with grey hair and glasses. Fabienne Débarre, on keyboards, has a straight black bob and wears a black and white shirt with a geometric pattern under a black tunic dress. Both keyboards and drums are mounted on small platforms so that they can slide forwards along the grey platform. Mark Neary, on bass, has short red hair and beard. And on guitar, musical producer Kipper, with tousled short brown hair and light stubble.
Please note that the performance is loud and uses strong washes of coloured light and strobes. Some songs are performed with continuous choreography while others are performed solo by Horrocks, standing at the mic. You may wish to dip in and out of the audio description during the show.
The programme includes a list of the songs and the bands that played them originally. These are:
Anthrax – Gang of Four
Atrocity Exhibition – Joy Division
Fiction Romance – Buzzcocks
Isolation – Joy Division
Nag Nag Nag – Cabaret Voltaire
What Do I Get – Buzzcocks
Empire State Human – The Human League
Hot on the Heels of Love – Throbbing Gristle
My New House – The Fall
Memorabilia – Soft Cell
I Know It’s Over – The Smiths
Life Is A Pigsty – Morrissey
Temptation – New Order
The cast and production credits
If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me features Jane Horrocks and the four dancers Lorena Randi, Conor Doyle, Michael Walters and Daniel Hay-Gordon.
The members of the band are: drummer Rat Scabies, Fabienne Débarre on keyboards, Mark Neary on bass and Kipper on guitar.
Design Bunny Christie
Musical producer and arrangements by Kipper
Light Andreas Fuchs
Sound Paul Arditti
Video Tim Reid
and Direction and Choreography is by Aletta Collins
That’s the end of the introductory notes. For more information or to book for the tour, please call the Young Vic box office on 0207 922 2922.