An intimate play set in post-war WWI England, Kiss Me grants bedside access to an encounter between two reluctant participants, both eager to create new life.
Widowed but driven by maternal instinct, a woman accepts a mysterious gentleman into her bed in the hope of falling pregnant. Both are under strict instructions not to learn the identity of the other.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes plays the stiff upper-lipped man at pains to conceal his anonymity, going by the nom de plume “Dennis”, while Claire Lams plays “Stephanie” (also not her real name), a woman who’s desperate but unwilling to be reduced to a mere notch on a bedpost. Dennis longs for detachment, but Stephanie’s infectious enthusiasm begins to chip away at his defences.
They are are well fleshed out characters, displaying both affection and callousness, each grappling with the emotional complexity of their situation. Post-war re-population is a weighty subject, but playwright Richard Bean builds a convincing argument through his twin leads, although he occasionally reaches a little too far in pursuit of their motivation.
The first half is the stronger, with the early excitement of the unknown making way for the more pedestrian side of their relationship as it eventually begins to flower. But by the end you really feel for these people making recognisably human decisions against a backdrop of such adversity.