THEATRE REVIEW: Kiss Of the Spiderwoman starring Samuel Barnett and Declan Bennett


WHERE: Menier Chocolate Factory

WHEN: 18/3, press night 21/3 runs to 5/5/18

William Hurt won an Oscar in 1986 for his memorable performance in the film version of this play as Molina, a transgender convict who entertains her political prisoner cellmate with reminiscences from escapist films.

  • Read on for reasons including how projections are used to great effect here

In this new version by Jose Rivera and Allan Baker, Molina is gay rather than transgender. It’s a part fans of Barnett’s can probably imagine him relishing after roles in The History Boys (at the National and on film) and in TV’s Beautiful People.

He’s also reviewed on this site for his performance in The Beaux’ Stratagem at the National in 2015.

The most impressive thing about this production directed by Laurie Sansom is that Molina’s embellished versions of favourite films are enhanced by projections in shadows against the walls of the jail in which he is incarcerated with Valentin (Bennett convincing in the masculine role of the cellmate who comes to depend on Molina).

What we felt the action lacked was the emotional intensity one might expect from two leads locked up with one another for so long.

Molina’s attraction to Valentin is obvious but more difficult to convey is how the latter grows to depend on the former and we felt the chemistry between the two did little to suggest that this was a possibility let alone a probability.

We can’t imagine too many people getting entangled in this 100-minute without interval production of a classic.

  • Picture by Nobby Clark via Facebook courtesy Menier Chocolate Factory. Tickets
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