By John Van de Ven
Set in 1970’s Argentina sometime after a right-wing military coup, Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman takes place in a prison, and showcases the relationship between two cellmates.
This latest offering from BAT Theatre explores and challenges traditional thoughts on gender roles, companionship, sexuality and humanity.
Valentin and Molina, cellmates in an Argentinian prison, are total opposites. Valentin is reserved, quiet and composed; Molina is energetic, and exuberant. Though the pair contrast each other, they find enjoyment in one another as they spend their evenings discussing movies remembered by Molina.
As the two banter back and forth, over which characters they like, the conversation spills over into their personal lives. We find out that Valentin belongs to a secret group of communists, and that Molina rejects the notion that what makes a woman is not determined by what is or isn’t between their legs, but found in who they are as a person.
One day as Valentin and Molina eat their dinner, Molina gets very sick. Valentin, concerned for his friend, urges Molina to go on with the movie the two were distracting themselves with. Two days later Valentin gets sick. Something sinister is lurking behind the scenes between the two prisoners and the disembodied voice of the warden.
I really enjoyed Kiss of the Spider Woman, another in a long line of excellent BAT Theatre productions. Puig’s story challenges gender barriers, and highlights the context sensitive nature of our associations with each other. Kiss of the Spider Woman’s story slowly unfolds as Molina and Valentin explore their relationship with each other, and the value they each bring to one another. Though this odd couple seem very different, they find a common bond in their bondage. This survival story is a tale of how two completely different people can find comfort and the ability to cope in one another.
Bruno Camacho Jiménez plays Valentin and Molina is played by Justin Charles. Although Jiménez is in Costa Rica and Charles is in the Pacific Northwest, the chemistry between their characters radiates throughout the story. The faceless and shadowy warden is voiced by Steve Murphy.
Kiss of the Spider Woman is directed by Roy Arauz, and an excellent soundtrack is provided by Josh Zimmerman, who plays live throughout the show. This show is packed with production to give its audience as close to a “live and in person” experience as possible from home. This show is an adult show and may be inappropriate for a younger audience.
Kiss of the Spider Woman is another excellent BAT Theatre production so don’t miss it!
There are two more opportunities to catch Kiss of the Spider Woman:
- Saturday Nov. 7 at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m
For more information on Kiss of the Spider Woman and the donation link, please visit:
Because this is a different format than most will be familiar with, I will add a few tips to maximize your viewing pleasure:
- Take advantage of waiting the half hour before the show starts to allow ample time to adjust your settings.
- Make sure to mute your mic and turn off your webcam if you have one.
- Make sure you are set to watch in “Gallery View”
- Pour your favorite beverage, sit back and relax.
While this second season of Shelter-in-Place is not the same as going to see an actual BAT Theatre show, it does offer a number of comforts to the alternative. Snacks and drinks are only limited to what you have at home, clothing is optional, as long as you avoid using your webcam, and you get social distancing approved live theater!
A full list of this season’s productions, along with donation links, can be found here.
The BAT Theatre has been performing shows in the Puget Sound area for over 40 years, and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity that relies heavily on ticket revenue, donations and volunteer help.