Energy filled: If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me

Maggie Foyer is at the Young Vic, London
March 16, 2016

Plugged in and switched on – that’s If You Kiss Me, Kiss, Me. The white pared-down set is dominated by a giant 3-pin plug and stays connected, the current flowing strongly for the full hour. Set to hits of the 70s, the show has a high octane surge and at its core, harnessing the forces, is diminutive Jane Horrocks. She barely leaves the stage and in a voice that assaults, cajoles, confronts and purrs, proves herself a star of the first magnitude.

Tribute evenings can be a cop out in a model of ‘roll out the old favourites and keep the punters happy’. This was something else: the sharpest of settings and the quality of performance ratcheted this production to cutting edge newness. The music is from Horrocks’ teen years and she has the balance spot on; starting brash and loud and finishing low key and intense. At the finish, dressed in black jumpsuit and boots, looking both tough and vulnerable, she sings Morrissey’s Life is a Pigsty in a voice that reaches deep inside you as the lights fade.

Aletta Collins, credited with both direction and choreography in collaboration with her dancers, moulds the evening with a deft touch. Her four dancers, Conor Doyle, Daniel Hay-Gordon, Lorena Randi and Michael Walters, are well chosen. They excel in her eclectic style and work at an energy level that leaves you breathless.

Jane Horrocks and Conor Doyle in If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me Photo Johan Persson
Jane Horrocks and Conor Doyle in If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Photo Johan Persson

The show runs seamlessly. She needs a chair? A dancer brings it on. A second dancer brings on a lamp. They shift it onto the diagonal for an interesting slant then throw in a few original, exciting moves. Horrocks is belting out her song and they complement with their energy.

The neon edged stage is gleaming white, so when a fridge is moved on it doesn’t seem out of place in the sanitized cleanliness. It also provides a welcome drink in the non-stop show. Constant shifts in lighting state ensure the mood stays edgy. Dance is everywhere, pulsing, vogueing, stretching; these dancers can do it all.

The four musicians, Kipper (who also did the arrangements) Rat Scabies, Mark Neary and Fabienne Debarre each an exemplar in his form. They play onstage, sometimes masked and at times moving into the auditorium in the versatile space of the Young Vic – an ideal venue for an innovative show.