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Unkissed - Sydney Fringe Festival (NSW)

Written, Performed, and Directed by Sarah Carroll.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

23rd September, 2023


3.5 STARS


- What was your first kiss like? Experience the highs and lows all over again this Sydney Fringe Season -


If you, like me, spend a lot of time on Tik Tok, you may have seen the trend of making PowerPoints to showcase topics you care about most to your inner circle. I for one did a “My Florence Pugh Discovery Journey” during lockdown and felt quite fulfilled. Writer, director and performer, Sarah Carroll takes the powerpoint format, adds in her own unique charm and quirks, and covers herself and the screen in pink to take you on her journey of landing her first kiss in Unkissed.


Take the time now to remember your first kiss. What was going through your mind at the time? Was it as special as you remember? Did it create fireworks like so many 80’s movies suggested? Was it completely atrocious and now you’re cursing me for having dug up this wretched memory? The point is, we all have had (or will have) one. Carroll takes her audience on this experience using technologies of the modern world in a joyous 60-minute show that continuously develops.

Unkissed by Sarah Carroll. Images provided: Riverside Theatres.


In my last review of Carroll’s work, her acclaimed production Cherry, I believe I noted that she has the essence of a young Michelle Brasier. A year on, I stand by this statement. Carroll is a natural performer and crowd-pleaser as she interacts calmly and cheekily with her audience. Welcoming them into the space, she hands them an empty balloon with the air of a friend you’re catching up with after a short time away. Audience participation will happen, she relays to us, but don’t worry it’s all fun.


In this way, Unkissed lives and dies by the energy the audience brings. Carroll is acutely aware of this and naturally works to bring us onto her side. She is both warm and humorously awkward, bubbly and quirky with a mischievous air around her. Carroll is all natural with the energy of a Katy Perry fangirl, which she has zero qualms about telling you.


Jumping through each section of her Unkissed PowerPoint, Carroll takes us through her research to perfect her first kiss. What has her doom scrolling on Tik Tok taught her? Amongst the bottle rolling videos lies some semblance of sanity. Did the WikiHow help? She tests out the advice through hand holding, vaseline rubbing, and popping some strawberry (or cherry?) flavoured breath mints. How about pop culture? There are many movies that inspire her first kiss, Cruel Intentions sparking one very important moment for her.


the perfect stocking filler for your Fringemas season.

It’s difficult to fully critique Unkissed because it has had so many iterations, and will have so many more iterations on its journey. Starting at Shopfront Arts, this piece is adaptable and joyous, with the finale diving into the absurd elements of the comedic Fringe format.


Massive props have to go to Carroll for venturing out into Parramatta, away from the heart of the Sydney Fringe scene in the city to stage Unkissed this year. For those who had the pleasure of witnessing Unkissed, it's the perfect stocking filler for your Fringemas season. I personally cannot wait to see where Carroll takes this performance next Fringe season.


Let’s all cheer for her to finally land that first kiss. Cue “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer.

 

You can listen to our podcast episode with Sarah Carroll, as well as find our full episodes in the link below.


Plan your Sydney Fringe this September by heading to their website for the extensive list of what's on offer. Visit: https://sydneyfringe.com/whats-on/


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