Flash theatre recommendation: Kiss of the Spider Woman at The Menier Chocolate Factory

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Last night I was lucky enough to see the final PREVIEW show of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” at the Menier Chocolate factory. I’m flagging I saw a preview show as, for those who may not familiar with the strange ways of theatre, a production will continue to be tweaked and changed until it opens on press night (which is happening tonight). The joy of seeing the final preview show is you can be pretty confident there won’t be significant changes before press night, and this show was so powerful I couldn’t identify anything they’d need to change.

Samuel Barnett and Declan Bennett shine in this dark, gripping love story. Their performances resonate with a disarming humanity and authenticity that land the emotional truth of this beautiful play.  Grace Cookey-Gam is well cast in the small, but essential, plot-driving role of the Warden, but ultimately this show is a two-hander focusing on the evolving relationship between these two very different cellmates.

I don’t want to say too much about why the design of this production is so effective (I hate spoilers with a passion, another reason I enjoy a preview as the show is still cocooned in the safe bubble-wrap of mystery), but director Laurie Sansom’s production is the full package, with the design elements working together to add magic to the story, without distracting from the beauty and power of the performances.

“Kiss of the Spider Woman” is running at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 5th May. Starting at 8pm (a great start time for theatre-going foodies who enjoy having time to actually chew their food, particularly given the theatre’s proximity to the many eateries around Borough, and not forgetting the Menier’s own lovely restaurant) and with a 1hr 40 running time (no interval), this makes a wonderful mid-week night out option for those who need to be home at a sensible time.  I’d defy your thoughts not to drift back to that Argentine prison cell as you negotiate the joys of a London morning rush hour the next day.

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