Jay and Paul are both serving life sentences for homophobic murders. Incredibly, they fall in love and seek permission to marry. Inspired by real-life events, Kiss Marry Kill is a provocative new play that reimagines the first same-sex wedding in a UK prison. Take a seat and prepare for the action to take place in front, above and around you - in signature Dante or Die style.

With live music from rapper Lady Lykez, the production envelops audiences in the private spaces and conversations of a world rarely seen. Kiss Marry Kill zeroes in on the limits of our compassion, challenging our assumptions and preconceptions around sexuality, and the criminal justice system. Content warnings: This show contains discussion and descriptions of homophobic hate crimes. There are also scenes of a sexual nature, nudity, violence, and strong language.

Kiss Marry Kill is a provocative retelling of a significant moment in history that's rarely given airtime. We follow the perspective of Jay through the commi=ng of a brutal crime, his sentencing, and adjust.ng to life in prison with little hope for a future as even behind bars he begins to lose more than he could ever have imagined.


Stone Nest is a unique performance art space that was once a bustling and popular church. Seeing this show in a space where weddings traditionally take place is an enthralling decision central to the heart of the show and adds a level of dimension that simply could not have been achieved in a traditional theatre space.

Site-specific theatre is fascinating and unlocks a whole new universe for artists to explore, but of course, comes with its own obstacles. The actors are all mixed throughout, although the high ceilings and architecture of the building make for a rather encumbering echo and interfere with the way sound and speech carry across the space. I found it difficult to make out a fair bit of what was being said, however, the show does offer captioning at every performance via a handheld device that I wish I had made use of. The set is exceedingly clever, creating a truly immersive experience and placing the audience inside the prison with the characters. The set design, by Sophie Neil, is actually the main character of the show for me, leading to some lovely moments of ensemble movement. This stunning design has so much to offer and is so integral to the show, that I feel like elements of the set aren't used to their full extent. The occasional scenes involving movement and manipulation of the set are really beautiful, this is a show and design that cries out ‘physical theatre' and that isn't taken nearly enough advantage of. There is also a lot of unused space that I kept waiting for the show to expand into and it never does. The piece is set in traverse, and there was empty space and entrances behind the audience on both sides. The venue also has a stunning balcony running in a circle above and framing an incredible glass dome ceiling and I found it exceedingly noticeable that this is seemingly all ignored. The tech desk is placed to the side beneath a stunning arch and framed by pillars and encased to match the set and bring it into the world, and yet the area is used solely as storage. Although I acknowledge that there could well be venue restrictions, it feels like a waste and a huge shame to have access to one of the most beautiful performance spaces I've ever seen, and not use every square inch of it.

The lighting design, by Joshua Gadsby, is the perfect haunting accompaniment to this piece.

With one of the most limited rigs I've ever seen and a few pieces of set LX in the form of LED batons, coupled with the shape of the building and audience layout, Gadsby could not have had a more difficult set of circumstances to work with and yet created nothing short of pure magic. The use of lighting and shadow work brings the world of the play to life in a truly stunning and unique visual experience.

The structure of the show itself feels somewhat bitty; it seems like the focus is often misdirected and important plot points are rushed through or skipped over altogether. Most of the rapping sections are used to indicate .me passing but this isn't entirely clear and makes the story difficult to follow at .mes. The rapping feels mostly out of place for me, while very well performed and with some clever lyrics, I do ques.on the purpose and find it hard to identify what it brings to the piece. I feel that it needs to be much more integrated in order to be effective, which is illustrated by the fact that the one occasion where Lady Lykez begins rapping while in character works really well, and continues to work as she transitions out of character mid-song.

Kiss Marry Kill is a brilliant concept with very solid building blocks but is not quite there yet with its execution. I left the show feeling rather unfulfilled, and this was really compounded by the fact that I have never seen a show with so much aptitude fall below its worth. This piece of theatre has a huge amount to offer and there is undoubtedly a gap in the industry that I would love to see it fill. With some work, this piece of theatre could have a very successful future, and I hope to see it really reach its full potential. You can catch Kiss Marry Kill on tour!

Check out their dates and get tickets here.



Review: Rachel Sarah    Photo: Greta Zabulyte