Intimacy can come in many forms: from a long, sensuous kiss to the brief contact of hands. They can unleash a flood of emotions and raise many questions to the meaning of such an action. David Finnigan and Isab Martinez's Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions is presented as two short works in which the art of kissing and desire are explored.
The first piece, of which the show is named from, introduces us to Toni Stevenson-Smith (Christina McLachlan), a sex therapist and intimacy coach who is here to enlighten us on the perfect kiss. Toni takes us through a variety of kisses, including the first kiss, how to kiss in public and the farewell kiss. Teaching a group of people how to kiss is difficult without someone to kiss, so with some help from some volunteers in the audience (strictly by volunteering), Toni rates and critiques each kisser with the hope of them using her words of wisdom in the future.
This dissection of kissing explores how much meaning and power kissing has in our culture. Throughout the lecture, Toni's own cracks begin to surface as she deals with the aftermath of her own lip-locking experiences. McLachlan does a great job in presenting the duality of a cool, calm and collected professional while expressing the rejection, anger and sadness that has resulted from the simple act of kissing.
The second story, "to hear you up and cool you down" focuses on two waitresses working at a cafe who may or may not have a crush on each other. Luckily, they each have their inner voices to assist in analysing this. Christine's (Erin Pattison) is played by McLachlan and the two share a good rapport and are fun to watch interact. Having McLachlan dress similarly - but still differently - to Pattison's character was a great touch, as was the exploration of Christine's slightly more adventurous side.
By contrast, Onie's inner voice is shown via typed text on a screen - that sometimes disappears before you've even had a chance to read it - or by a pre-recorded voiceover. This leads to some confusion and it would have been a stronger decision to have this 'character' also played by an actor, as it would have given Laura McAloney the opportunity to interact with someone like Pattison and McLachlan did so well. The direction in this work also felt slightly frenetic and rushed with too much movement and entering and exiting of the stage to build on the story's intimacy.
While there are aspects to Appropriate Kissing for All Occasions that still need to be worked on and developed, what it chooses to explore and the way it explores these ideas makes this show an entertaining look at affection and intimacy.
Venue: The Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne.
Season: until 30 September | Fri - Sat 8pm, Sat 9:30pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $22 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival