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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Kiss Me and You Will See How Important I Am

Sunday's Child (Ireland)

Genre: Physical Theatre


 C Aquila


Low Down

 An exploration of youthfulcuriosity and madness.   Brave, dark new writing.  Witty and totally engrossing.


This play by Irish writer, Eva O’Connor, is beautiful.  Not in the pretty-pretty sense; it is raw.   There is beauty in truth, and truth there is in the raw suffering of the tortured, and probably untreatable, young people we encounter in Kiss Me. These beautiful young people suffer in various ways every truthful member of the audience can relate to.  Contrast with the deplorable, sensational and commercial pap of the Big Brother Household, were the inmates seek, not an easing of their troubled souls by exposing themselves attempting to face the truth of their own torment, but simply search for  Celebrity.   The Kiss Me  household  have a  genuine therapeutic need to expose themselves – not a cheap wish to be an overnight Celebrity; they need us to understand their angst, which they find so hard to speak out about; they need us  to empathise, but without sentimentality or commercial reward.   I am tempted to say they want a kiss from us, but they don’t, all four are above pleading:  they are quite angry.  In Kiss Me we are berated for our voyeurism: we scribblers do not escape criticism. “The exploitation of vulnerable people”.   The microphone is used  as an intimate aside for matters that dare not be spoken aloud for use of the would-be cured, and not as the self-vaunting tool of the Celebrity.

Beautiful for its truth, but beautiful too in it’s language:  Kiss Me could only have been written by a Celt:  there is an innate poesy, even in the ugliest of sentiments, actions and reactions, that comes so typically from the Emerald Isle.   Beautiful too in the space of an empty stage which was not empty:  and in the use of that space which was meaningfully filled with action.   Shakespeare would have been proud of their economy, selectivity and love of the lexicon!  How often have we seen a fridge and an armchair used as an apology for a set that could not be afforded, or a plethora of household objects and background of ill-painted flattage that end up looking like a disorganised junkshop.  The minimalism in Kiss Me was beautiful as was the placement and choice of objects and costume.   The precision of  thought for the environment was accompanied by a minimalism in every aspect of each of the actors’ performances:  not a gesture too extreme, not a muscle out of control, not a voice unnecessarily raised, but to tell the story.    

From time to time all four broke into movement, cathartic or explanatory moments that were totally natural and expressed and resolved dilemma that would have been tedious in words.   Like the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein where the ‘numbers’ spring naturally to the lips and words without music would be inappropriate.  The beautiful movement of all four members of the company were not confined to skilfully choreographed episodes: all four actors were spare and graceful even in their awkwardness; a joy to watch.  The level of concentration was mesmeric.

What is it then that lifts this piece above the very good 4 Star to the highest rating we can give?   Well in the Beginning was the Word and that is why this play has rung the bell for me:  and without taking on the role of Prophet,  it wouldn’t surprise me if the theatre world hears a lot more of Eva O’Connor in future.   O’Connor does not simply lay out the problems of the tortured souls on stage with clarity and dramatically, she has added that cutting edge of poetry which lifts the text into the metaphysical sphere

What else justifies  5 and not 4 ?  I think I would describe it as the creative minimalism of the direction and all four performances.   Minimalism doesn’t mean nothing: it means the least necessary being the best possible and this requires the most rigorous creative  planning , instinct and  selection, and a super high degree of concentration.  This was a marked quality of Kiss Me And You Will See How Important I Am. 

A character demands of us a  minute’s silence during the action:   I heard a pin drop 

Eva O’Commor, has written a distinguished piece and she leads the talented company, Elspeth McKeever, Daniel Cummins and Robert Neumaek who all give performances to be very proud of.  “Stop interrupting me with your silence!”   “You cannot change the channel” “I know what you’re thinking”   No you don’t, we are all unique, and we cannot just close doors on what we want to forget.   Sophie Fuller’s direction is without flaw.