And Then You Kissed Me @ Lowry Studio
Few subjects are more sensitive than domestic abuse. With a recent change in the law to protect victims and and increased media coverage of the issue, domestic violence is at the forefront of national consciousness.
And Then You Kissed Me is a new verbatim play by Footlights Theatre Company, a timely piece produced to tackle domestic abuse. Staged in Lowry’s intimate space, The Studio, the venue is perfect for a piece in which the audience can’t help but feel too close for comfort. A minimalist set featuring a centre-stage bed creates the illusion that we are intruding upon an intimate environment. Indeed, the fact that intimacy comes into play makes the parallel themes of violence and manipulation all the more unsettling.
“Will you enjoy it? Probably not,” says writer Jo Fisher of the play. Sadly, this rings true frequently in this performance and there is no escaping the weight of the subject matter. However, director Alan Pattison could have injected elements of humour into some lines to make the piece more rounded.
However, if Pattison’s main aim was to educate, then he certainly succeeds, leaving no stone unturned in this brutal portrayal of domestic abuse and the experiences of victims, their family members, therapists and the police alike.
Importantly, we hear the story of a male victim who gives his testimony whilst lacing up his football boots, a poignant reminder of how many men feel that reporting a partner’s violence is a threat to their masculinity.
The highlight of the play is the story of the character portrayed by Orla Cottingham, who suffers emotional abuse by her partner. As the only story to follow a couple’s relationship uninterrupted from beginning to end, it is the most powerful in depicting the tell-tale signs and corrosive effects of a toxic relationship.