Wednesday, 19 August 2009

It Felt Like A Kiss.

Punchdrunk/Adam Curtis/Damon Albarn. Six foot high posters appear around Manchester, a woman in a striped dress appears, flung backwards and frozen mid-motion, apparently in ecstasy, pain, passion, perhaps all three. It is ambiguous and intriguing. Framed by the events themes; Baghdad 1963, New York 1964, Moscow 1959, The Amygdala 1959-69, Credit Card 1966, Kinshasa 1960. The title? 'It Felt Like A Kiss.' "Imagine walking into a disused building. You find yourself inside a film. It is a ghost story where unexpected forces, veiled by the American Dream, come out from the dark to haunt you…" Waiting on the steps outside a disused office block, anticipation builds as I wonder what the hell to expect from a walk through play with no actors. Audiences enter the show in groups of ten, before the show begins I must sign a disclaimer incase of accident or death, which obviously unsettles me slightly, and when asked if I am of a nervous disposition I hesitate slightly before agreeing to cram into a small lift to the 5th floor. Stumbling into the darkness, suddenly I feel reliant on those around me to find my way forward, and an immense sense of trust, convinced that everyone knows where they are going, the first fright hits me when I see a clown faced man stood directly next to me, and although they told us there were no actors, I swear that he was warm! moving swiftly on through a forest of cardboard tubing, I find myself flung into a 1950s american dream, props of which fascinate me, every detail seems to have been though out from matchboxes, toys, cigars, ashtrays, books, even inside the draws are filled with handkerchiefs, tablecloths and diaries. There is something about the way the dummies are looking at their wives or offspring that offers a more sinister outlook. This combined with the dim lighting and squeaky clean soundtrack unsettles me, as I question 'When is it all going to go wrong?' Walking through old beauty parlours and film sets, the walls are adorned with old horror movie posters. The mood shifts. Clips and captions played on televisions show american iconography and an ambiguous narrative, enhancing the experience. I fall behind my group, as I attempt to take in every detail, knowing that a 35 minute film is imminent, which brings all the elements together. The film is shown in a sort of garden party marquee setting, as the audience, enter at varying stages of the film, it doesn't appear to have a beginning middle and end, rather, a series of recordings, clippings, clever editing, word captions and a punchy soundtrack, which intrigues and excites as I watch. I find my mind flitting back to what I have just walked through as names pop up on screen; Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Lee Harvey Oswald and a young Saddam Hussein. Once the film has run full loop, I feel my senses heightened and I am more receptive to my surroundings...and so begins the nightmare. The words 'haunted' and 'house' comes to mind, those really scary ones with actors, but somehow more professional; what follows is a mixture of school gymnasiums, flickering lights, dead bodies mental health institutions, all of which I am now convinced are real, and that I too was born in the 50s...further on I find a caged maze, complete with chain saws, guns, loud bangs, eerie blackness and when we are forced to split our group in two, I find the thought unfathomable as if these people are family member and we might not make it out alive... the last few minutes result in lots of screaming, running, uncertainty and the age old fear of being chased, until Curtis' wishes are granted and we all 'run out screaming' A truly unique experience, utterly exhausting an exhilarating, leaving me reeling for days. Link to the full film,which is played throughout the experience...truly immense, if you are planning on seeing this show, then i suggest you do!-can only really be fully appreciated in the environment created by the Punchdrunk team alongside Curtis and Albarn.

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