Review by: Paul Towers, 27/4/18
Kiss of The Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig, adapted by Jose Rivera & Allan Baker
A Menier production starring Samuel Barnett & Declan Bennett with Grace Cookey-Gam
Menier Chocolate Factory until 5 May 2018
“Outstanding performances by both Bennett and Barnett.”
Many people will be aware of the film of Manual Puig’s The Kiss of The Spiderwoman starring William Hurt and Raol Julia. This is the most recent adaptation of the original book which is a stripped back narrative concentrating solely on the relationship between Molina (Samuel Bennet), the gay man incarcerated for gross indecency, and Valentin (Declan Bennett) the straight political activist. Forced into uncomfortable proximity they form an uneasy alliance in an attempt to break the boredom engulfing them. To this end Molina enacts old romantic movies from the heyday of Hollywood starring strong leading ladies.
As Molina’s ever more flamboyant portrayals of movie queens progress Valentin finds himself drawn in despite himself until eventually it gets too much and, needs must, Molina’s dream of romance with tough guy Valentin finally becomes a reality.
The interior of the Menier has been transformed into a battered concrete corner of the cell block with a mezzanine of cell doors ranged around the set. Rubble is scattered across the floor as the two prisoners try and make themselves comfortable on their basic metal beds.
Outstanding performances by both Bennett and Barnett make this a tense discourse on how to survive adversity. The finale of this production surprises everyone with, apart from the expected denouement, a rain shower onstage.