If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me

Theatre, Musicals
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Jane Horrocks sings some of her favourite new wave songs in this peculiar hour of entertainment

It’s hard to know how to describe this strange one-hour show. In essence, it’s Jane Horrocks, of 'Little Voice' fame, singing her favourite northern post-punk tracks of the '70s and '80s, the sounds the Lancastrian actress grew up with. But it’s not a musical – there’s not really any talking and no tangible theme, although Horrocks regurgitates some Gang of Four musings about depictions of love in songs. And it aspires to be more than a covers gig, with striking staging (a huge electric socket and plug courtesy of Bunny Christie – suggesting, maybe, the jolt of energy this music delivered into drab domestic worlds) and four dancers, choreographed by Aletta Collins.

Petite and youthful, Horrocks actually makes a credible frontwoman, perfecting the glacial serenity of Debbie Harry (and sporting a similar messed-up peroxide bob). She tackles tracks by Gang of Four, Joy Division, Buzzcocks and Soft Cell with gusto, offering now a punk holler, now a little girl whisper, slowing The Fall’s 'My New House' down into a seductive sprawl, and adding tear-stained pathos to The Smiths’ 'I Know It’s Over'. She ably supported by a tight on stage band including Grammy and Emmy-winning producer Kipper and The Damned’s Rat Scabies – they gloriously ramp up an electronic squall for the closing number, Morrissey’s 'Life Is a Pigsty'. The dancers, meanwhile, explore the juddering, jagged rhythms and scrappy energy of the music, sometimes seeming aggressively sexual, sometimes playful, sometimes lost and staggering in a narcotic haze. You can’t help thinking wistfully, though, of how Michael Clark’s iconoclastic choreography tapped into the The Fall’s post-punk swagger.

It’s also a bit odd to have this music of grungy despair presented so slickly, with a theatre audience sitting watching politely, when its decidedly rough edges were surely a significant part of the messy appeal. Horrocks reliving her teen fandom is engaging up to a point, but the show really needed a clearer direction to make it feel like more than just a fleeting hour of entertainment.

BY: SIOBHAN MURPHY

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