One of the theater's goals, according to its earliest theorists, is to incite fear. But rarely is that emotion provoked by a chainsaw-wielding maniac who chases you down a murky hallway—the climax of It Felt Like a Kiss, a promenade play by the British company Punchdrunk, and easily the most terrifying show I witnessed during a week of theatergoing in England....-Alexis Soloski, reporting from London. (Also on Jude's Hamlet.)
Staged in a disused office building near the Manchester docks as part of the Manchester International Festival, It Felt Like a Kiss tells "the story of how America set out to remake the world" in the 1950s and '60s. Apparently, America did this in nice ways, like exporting pop music, and in nasty ones, like sponsoring coups. As in previous Punchdrunk shows, the audience navigates a series of meticulously decorated rooms—a suburban bungalow, a chamber for electroshock therapy, a high school gym. While music composed by Damon Albarn and performed by the Kronos Quartet plays, viewers are encouraged to lift blankets, open drawers, and otherwise attempt to uncover the world of the play.