Entertainment & Arts

Jane Horrocks' theatre show If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me receives mixed reviews

Jane Horrocks in If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me Image copyright Johan Persson
Image caption If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me sees Horrocks singing and interacting with a company of dancers

Jane Horrocks' If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me has been described as "part gig, part dance piece" - but it appears critics are not quite sure what to make of it, giving mixed reviews.

The Young Vic show sees Horrocks perform the music of bands including The Smiths and The Fall, accompanied by dancers and a live band.

The Independent says it is "a personal project that never feels personal".

And Lyn Gardner in the Guardian said it "springs few surprises".

'Sophisticated and remote'

Horrocks takes to the stage - dominated by an enormous plug socket - in a boilersuit and unlaced boots, later changing into leggings and a T-shirt.

She speaks very little in the hour-long piece, instead letting the music and dancing do the talking.

Horrocks, who previously showed off her singing talent in Little Voice, told the BBC she wanted to bring music from her past to the show.

"Most of the songs are from northern, male bands in the late 1970s and early 80s," said the Absolutely Fabulous star.

"Some of them are very loyal, but most are reinvented. They've got a bit more of a contemporary edge to them."

Image copyright Johan Persson
Image caption The performance was described as 'too glossy' for one critic

But Gardner in The Guardian said she longed "for more variety, for something less emotionally remote" in the work.

"There is no Desert Island Discs-style explaining of the significance of the songs Horrocks has chosen to cover," she noted. "Instead, If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me - which takes its title from an unperformed Marc Almond song - occupies the shadowy territory between a fully fledged theatre show and a gig."

Zoe Anderson, in the Independent, complained that "it's all very glossy, cleaned of sweat and guitar feedback" and gave two stars - while Gardner gave it three, later admitting on Twitter her rating had been "too generous".

"Whether deconstructing love songs, or actually singing them, Horrocks is sophisticated and remote," Anderson wrote. "These songs weren't part of my adolescence, but If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me doesn't show me why they were so important to hers."

'Extended music video'

The Telegraph gave it four stars, with dance critic Mark Monahan noting "this is a show she's probably been wanting to put on ever since she was about 13".

He added that it is "one of the crispest and kookiest hours of entertainment you're likely to encounter all year, and oddly elating in the way that only expertly delivered tragedy can be".

Mark Trueman, in What's on Stage, said the show is "several things at once". He admitted not being part of the target audience, but added: "The songs don't sit right in her mouth."

"The whole thing feels like an extended music video - slick, easy on the eye, pretty vapid," he said. "There's a thump to the music, but I should have come out wanting to set up a playlist and I just didn't."

The Stage review, by Natasha Tripney, also admitted she was not moved by the piece, writing: "This is not my music. I suspect it might make a considerable difference if it were."

She gave three stars, as Trueman did, and said: "The show is, says Horrocks, an archaeological exercise, but it's one performed with gloves on.

"The whole production feels a little bit too clean; your lungs stay pink and smoke-free throughout, the soles of your shoes un-sticky, your hair remains free of dubious fluids."

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