In press materials, the play is described as a fierce and tender meditation on love, memory and the power of the unspoken. Using a bare stage, a handful of domestic props and the puppetry that is Handspring's trademark, Or You Could Kiss Me is an intimate history of two very private lives, lived in extraordinary times. Set in the winter of 2036 in a shabby apartment in the South African seaside town of Port Elizabeth, two old men search for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together. In the perfect summer of 1971, in a very different South Africa, their younger selves search for the courage to fall in love. And poised halfway between these two stories – one imagined, one remembered – their real-life counterparts bear witness to both the beginning and ending of an incredible journey.
The play is directed by Neil Bartlett and designed by Rae Smith, with puppet design and fabrication by Adrian Kohler, lighting design by Chris Davey, sound by Christopher Shutt and music by Adrian Tilt. The production is presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company.
The cast comprises Adjoa Andoh, Finn Caldwell, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Craig Leo, Tommy Luther and Mervyn Millar.
Jones and Kohler are co-founders of Handspring, which they established in Cape Town in 1981. The National Theatre's production of War Horse, for which they and Rae Smith won the Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Laurence Olivier Awards for set design, is currently running at the New London Theatre and will open at Broadway's Beaumont Theater in March 2011. Several of Handspring’s productions have toured internationally, including Starbrites, Woyzeck on the Highveld, Ubu and the Truth Commission and Tall Horse.
Bartlett was previously artistic director of London's Lyric Hammersmith from 1994 to 2005. Recent work includes The Maids (Brighton Festival), The Pianist (Manchester International Festival), Romeo and Juliet (RSC), Everybody Loves a Winner (Manchester International Theatre) and The Turn of the Screw (Aldeburgh Festival). To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk for more details.