Baxter Theatre Kiss of the Spider Woman

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ directed by Sylvian Strike. Image: Oscar O’ Ryan

‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ to spin powerful web at The Baxter this March

Directed by the multi award-winning Sylvaine Strike, Manuel Puig’s hit classic, ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ is now open for bookings.

Baxter Theatre Kiss of the Spider Woman

Mbulelo Grootboom and Wessel Pretorius in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ directed by Sylvian Strike. Image: Oscar O’ Ryan

Manuel Puig’s powerful play Kiss of the Spider Woman — directed by Sylviane Strike — is set to run at The Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 9 to 26 March. 

Originally written in Spanish in 1972 by Puig, translated into English by Allan Baker, Kiss of the Spider Woman, has captured the attention of audiences for its romantic drama, political outcry and postmodern style portrayed through its two characters, Molina and Valentin. It was adapted for the stage in 1983.

Theatrical kiss of Sylviane Strike

In recent years at The Baxter, Strike has directed hugely acclaimed productions, such as Endgame, Curse of the Starving Class, Tartuffe, Tobacco and The Miser.

In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government and is a former Standard Bank Young Artist for Drama winner and Featured Artist of the National Arts Festival.

Strike directs a stellar cast with Mbulelo Grootboom (Rainbow Scars, Iagos Last Dance, Hamlet) as Valentin and Wessel Pretorius (Ont, Die Ontelbare 48, Balbesit) as Molina, in this journey of self-awareness, intrigue, romance, revolution, love and betrayal, with lighting design by Mannie Manim, set and costume design by Wolf Britz and music by Brendan Jury.

‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’: Plot and intrigue

The plot follows two cellmates who pass their time in a prison, by remembering and reinventing classics of the silver screen. What at first seems to be a simple and straightforward – if not casual – story of two people who appear to be opposites (the romantic and the revolutionary), instead reveals a story of political intrigue and double-crossing. 

1985 film with William Hurt

The 1985 film version of the play, starring William Hurt and Raul Julia,  received widespread critical acclaim earning Hurt Academy and Bafta awards. The film received a further three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture

Starting out as a contest between two opposite personalities, it soon expands into a choice between two completely different attitudes to life. The choice is not sexual, although for a long time it seems so. It is between freedom and slavery.

Forty-five years since it was first penned, Kiss of the Spider Woman weaves an alluring exploration of sexual and societal norms, examining the power of escapism through the imagination and magnifying the web that it is woven between identity and sexuality.

Gender politics

“While we now exist in a time where confinement and lockdown are a part of our everyday vocabulary, we also live in a world where it is crucial to re-examine and expand our limited understanding of gender politics,” says Strike.

“The choice to stage this seminal play in today’s revolutionary climate seems obvious and necessary.”

COVID-19 protocols in place

COVID-19 protocols are in place as regulated at Adjusted Level 1 during the National State of Disaster. These include the availability of hand sanitisers, tracking and tracing recorded, wearing of masks and physical distancing. Patrons and audience members are advised to arrive at least an hour before the start of the performance to avoid delays.

Where and when

Kiss of the Spider Woman runs at The Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 9 to 26 March, at 19:30 with Saturday matinees at 14:30 on 12, 19 and 26 March 2022. Ticket prices range from R125 (Early Bird Special for bookings before 18 February), R170 (Mondays to Wednesdays) to R200 (Thursdays to Saturdays).

There is an age restriction of 15 years. Booking is through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at or at Pick n Pay stores.