To the National to see Or You Could Kiss Me the new collaboration between Neil Bartlett and Handspring - the puppet maestros who brought us War Horse.
This time the company have gone for a more intimate story. Set in the imagined South Africa of 2036 two old men, lovers for over fifty years search for the right way to say goodbye to each other. The premise is promising, particularly as the play moves backwards and forwards across their lives, focusing on the forbidden nature of their initial affair and exploring how the loss of memory affects the way they perceive the romanticism of this shared history, but I found myself strangely detatched from the emotional heart of the work and ended up focused more on the tehnical dexterity of the puppetry.
It made me wonder whether the logistics of this Cottesloe production, played in the round actually compete with the simple and moving truths of trying to retain a remembered past. Perhaps the visible fragmentation of constituent parts is the point, but the mechanics of the process don't carry enough emotional weight to really justify the alienation from the fierce humanity of the piece, that actors could bring. Each puppet takes four operators to bring it to life and the swift yet meticulous way in which these mini teams work together does provide a physical metaphor for the way in which nursed care should work, but very often the dislocation of language from body and the basic presentation of facts - various definitions of dementia are read out by a nurse on an unnecessary microphone - distracted from what could have been a brave and noble story.