This week I had a super trip to the theatre to see Kiss Me, a play by Richard Bean, currently on show at Trafalgar Studios.
Kiss Me, starring Claire Lams and Ben Lloyd-Hughes, is a love affair, an encounter between a man and a woman in the most unusual of circumstances. I highly recommend going to see it (Richard Bean also wrote One Man, Two Guvnors, so you better be quick booking those tickets.) It’s hugely engaging, gets you thinking, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
In so many ways it is a modern day story – a single woman in her 30s really wants a baby, and is prepared to try new methods to achieve this.
But this young woman is living in worn-torn London, post World War I. She is 32 and has given up all hope of ever finding a husband. She is a ‘modern’ woman, she smokes, she drives a lorry, and she is open to the idea of trying new controversial methods to become a mother. The main pull being that it will allow her to bring a child into the world and keep it, without being married.
Into her life steps a brooding, well-dressed, well-spoken young man, who appears more than willing to help her. But there are some catches – she may never know his real name. Or why he didn’t fight in the war. Or ever see him again. And they are absolutely not allowed to kiss.
The ensuing saga, set entirely in Stephanie’s bedroom in her all-female boarding house, is fraught with tension. It is awkward and shocking at points, but also incredibly tender and very funny. Stephanie wears her heart on her sleeve, she is confident, funny, sharp and assertive, but also hugely vulnerable. She nervously chatters away and talks about herself and slowly, but surely, she encourages Dennis to open up. And Dennis who first appears to have firm views, a blinkered idea of ‘love’ and strict rules surrounding their relationship, softens and slowly falls for Stephanie’s charms.
And throughout the performance the question is always present, hovering around every interaction – is it a baby that they both want, or is it love that they yearn for, and can the two ever truly be separated?
I really enjoyed the performance, both actors were superb, perfectly setting the tone of this bizarre romance. And it is also a fascinating subject, one that is so specific to it’s time, and yet still very relevant to today. And although it is set entirely around and on a bed, no one gets too naked, although maybe don’t take a first date unless you are feeling really bold…. 😘
Kiss Me at Trafalgar Studios is showing until 8th July.
Photos courtesy of Robert Day.