There seems to be a trend lately of performances that are broken into parts or shorter works covering an overall topic. I have seen at least four of these types of show recently and Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions is no different. The thing I find with these types of show is that it is really difficult to grab an audience immediately and hold onto them. I’m not sure why this is, surely a short piece is easier to hold an audience member’s attention but it seems not to be the case, I guess this is why there are more regular comedians than one line comedians, but I digress. The two-short works are Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions and to heat you up and cool you down.
Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions
This piece is set at a sex therapy workshop with today’s lesson exploring the world of kissing. Dr. Toni Stevenson-Smith, played by Christina McLachlan, takes to the stage to talk about four different types of kissing, namely, the first kiss, the passionate kiss, the public kiss and the goodbye kiss. The tension in the room is palpable when it is revealed she will be using audience volunteers to explain and rate each kiss, however four brave souls put their hand up to take it on. I’m not sure if McLachlan was more awkward than the audience members, but they all played their parts much to the rest of our relief and delight. As the piece progresses, the doctor’s back story and recent break-up continues to bubble to the service and she loses control over the course of the lecture. The piece lacked pace until the third volunteer was getting screamed at for leaving her, which made it difficult to engage initially. Despite it being set as a lecture, I’m not sure the aim should be to make it exactly like a lecture; this choice made it difficult to enjoy the piece.
to heat you up and cool you down
The name of this piece and its lack of capitalisation is about as confusing as the work itself, throw in some pointless plate and spoon choreography and this will leave you scratching your head. According to the program the three performers played two characters each, Bird and Coin was played by Christina McLachlan, Christine and Lute was played by Erin Pattison and Onie and Tick was played by Laura McAloney. To give a description of the piece is difficult because it was difficult to follow. However, the basic gist is that homosexual Onie has fallen for straight Christine. The other characters, voiceovers and a PowerPoint presentation from the 90’s (complete with the annoying type sound effects many of us used at school) were different thoughts going through Onie and Christine’s heads. The piece was flat, and laboured. There was rarely any musicality in any of the performers lines and it was played so unconvincingly that I didn’t really care about any of the characters or their wants and desires. The synopsis states that the “fragmented jumble of thoughts, desires…will sweep you into the emotional turmoil that lies beneath,” however there was none of this as most of the performance flat lined.
The production wasn’t awful it’s just that nothing really happened. There was a lot of attempted meaningfulness but none that I really believed. It had some nice moments and the occasional laugh but I wasn’t swept away. Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions is running until the 30th of September at Club Voltaire in North Melbourne.