Review: Kiss & Cry (Canadian Stage)

Kiss & Cry

CanStage’s Season Opener Sets The Bar High: Wonderful, Exciting Theatre

Kiss and Cry opened Canadian Stage’s season last night and set the bar high for the rest of the season. I can’t remember the last time I heard such long, sustained applause for a theatrical production; it transcended the standing ovation.

It’s a very short run. Kiss & Cry is only here for another four performances so if you want to skip to the end of this review for the ticket information, I’ll understand.

It’s impossible for me to attach a one-word label to Kiss & Cry. It’s an amazing combination of film, theatre, and dance created by Belgian choreographer Michèle Anne De  Mey and Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael with a script by Thomas Gunzig and Van Dormael (who also directs the production).

It would be beautiful even if it were performed in a traditional way; dancers on the stage accompanied by a dramatic narrative, dancing to music by Handel, Vivaldi, and Gershwin. That’s not the way it’s performed.

The dancers are two hands, one male and one female, who portray the characters in the narrative. It’s amazing, the range of emotions that can be evoked by hands as they dance through the sets; joy, sorrow, love, yearning, happiness, and regret as they tell the story of an old woman and the five men she has loved.

The sets are tiny. There’s a miniature railway complete with a little station, a hill, cows, and trees; a beach, complete with sand and water; a bathroom with a claw-footed bathtub, a pedestal sink, and a toilet with a red toilet seat; an open meadow with a tree in the corner; and a Victorian house. Those are just the ones that I remember off the top of my head.

The audience sees everything in complete detail because the performance is filmed and shown on a large screen. It’s like watching a movie that’s being made as you watch it – except there are no retakes, it’s a live movie.

As we were sitting down my friend Pat looked and the stage and and said jokingly “Oh, look, they aren’t even ready yet.” The stage didn’t look ready for a performance. It looked like organized chaos. There were nine people people walking around chatting to each other and checking things. I could see the miniature railroad and a couple of small tables, everything else look like equipment. There was a camera on a small boom, aimed at the railroad, and I could see a couple of other booms.

The performance started and it was magical. The sound effects were live, performed by Foley artists on stage. A man and a woman started dancing in a meadow. A tiny cameraman filmed them from the edge of the meadow and a live cameraman filmed them on the stage and the audience watched their dance on the screen.

For the rest of the performance I alternated between watching the screen and watching the stage. It was fascinating to see how things were done and it didn’t spoil the illusion for me at all.

Pat and I had a wonderful evening, Kiss & Cry is exciting theatre. There are only four more performances so get tickets now.


Kiss & Cry is playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St East) until October 4th

Performances are Thursday and Saturday at 8 pm, Friday at 7 pm, and Sunday at 1 pm

Ticket prices range from $49.00 to $99.00

Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-368-3110, and at the box office

Photo by Maarten Vanden Abeele