Review: KISS & CRY

by Lynn on February 5, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer


At the Bluma Appel Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Created by Michèle Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormael
In creative collection with: Gregory Grosjean
Thomas Gunzig
Julien Lambert
Silvie Olivė
Nicolas Olivier
Directed by Jaco Van Dormael
Choreography, nanodances by Michèle Anne De Mey and Gregory Grosjean.

Jaw-dropping in its vision, imagination and artistry. About seeking love, finding it, losing it and finding it again.

Kiss & Cry is astonishing because of the incredible artistry in its presentation. It was created by Michele Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormeal. They and five collaborators present all the components of the evening. It uses dance, ballet, film, live video projection, music, text and story.

An elderly woman recalls the five loves of her life. The narrator says that she’s had so few loves that she can count them on her hand. Well, yeah, she’s had five loves, eh? The shortest was 13 seconds when she was a young girl and saw a boy on a train, brushed my him, their hands touching and fell in love with him and then he was gone. One love was for one night at a dance hall; one was man who was a brutish animal in bed who also smelled; one love was very odd and one was lasting.

Most astonishing about Kiss & Cry is that it’s a mammoth production in miniature. It’s mammoth because it is so technically complex that there are sections all over the huge Bluma Appel stage where the action is performed and videoed by the company The action is then projected on a large screen so we can see it. It’s miniature, because all the props are mainly a few inches high. For example, the old woman is a small plastic form of a woman who is then placed sitting on a bench.

All the dancing, movement, engagement, character development etc. is created by some of the most muscular, graceful hands you have ever seen, in particular by the index and middle finger most of the time. The various scenes take place on one of the large tables on the stage. The scene is then videoed by the company and projected onto the screen.

This is not shadow play. Those fingers are as graceful and powerful as any real dancer’s legs you have ever seen both male and female. Two fingers are placed ‘standing’ on the table. The other fingers bend back in an elegant formation on its own. The result is the image of a strong ‘dancer’ standing straight and majestic. When the fingers ‘walk’ across the table, or in sand, or crawl like a crab, it is with sure, choreographed movement. Sometimes one finger caresses those of a partner’s hand. So we are looking at the fingers of two performers creating a pas de deux. The fingers glide across a surface and create scenes that are sensual, aggressive, erotic, and whimsical. You imagine the most majestic ballet dancers just from those elegant fingers.

Hands recreate the woman’s various lovers in bed and elsewhere. The woman recalling her loves sits at a train station (with the sign for Toronto above her) watching trains go by. The train motif threads through the production. A toy train set, centre stage, runs around a track as the action progresses. A crew videos that train from various angles and all the other action and projects the images on the large screen.

The audience is well aware of all the action taking place at various points on the stage with all the busy action and not just the stuff that is projected on that screen. They can see the setting up of scenes and the videoing of the action. The stage is mainly dark with key scenes lit often by flashlight. There is a lot of busy activity as the tech crew manipulates the video cameras or delicately plop down tiny props, or they create visual and sound effects.

Watching the action on the screen is mesmerizing. Watching the actual technician/artists as they all work on a tiny scene, setting the stage, creating the dancing with fingers is equally mesmerizing until the last stunning moment which is more jaw dropping.

I missed this show last year because of a packed schedule. I’m glad I saw it this year. Brilliant. Their next show is Cold Blood that plays at the Bluma from Feb. 10-14.

Don’t miss this company. They will make you look at the world and your hands in a different way.

A Charleroi Danses Production presented by Canadian Stage.

Opened: Feb. 4, 2016.
Closes: Feb. 7, 2016.
Running Time: 90 glorious minutes.

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