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REVIEW: 'Slap. Bang. Kiss.' by Underground Theatre

In a world where young voices are louder and more passionate than ever, ‘Slap. Bang. Kiss.’ is a powerful testament to individual resilience amidst societal challenges. Penned by Dan Giovannoni and presented by Underground Theatre this play dives into the turbulent waters of viral fame, social revolution, and personal transformation.


The play unfolds through three distinct tales, each marked by a pivotal event. Immi, a defiant teenager, catapults into the spotlight after slapping a peacekeeper in an occupied city, becoming an emblem of rebellion. Sofia's passionate response to (yet another) tragic school shooting propels her onto the global stage, where she becomes a fierce advocate against the horror of gun violence. Meanwhile, Darby and Daniel's quest to break the world record for the longest kiss inadvertently becomes a powerful statement against the shadows of homophobia lurking in their small-town. Through their struggles, Immi, Sofia, and Darby each face adversity in ways that not only define them but also inspire change within their communities.


The cast, comprised of Cullyn Beckton (as Darby), Ruby Shannon (as Sofia), and Hannah Sisson (as Immi), deliver performances that electrify and enthral. What truly sets this production apart from what I have seen recently is the actors' fluidity as they rapidly shift between lead and supporting characters (apparently 38 characters in total) by altering their costumes, mannerisms, and voice, all while maintaining the play's breakneck pace and overlapping dialogue with ease.


Sisson's portrayal of Immi is a gripping depiction of life under occupation, immersing the audience in a world of defiance and fear with her commanding vocal presence and wide-eyed intensity. Shannon captures Sofia's story with a blend of vulnerability and determination, providing a poignant critique of the aggravating normalisation of gun violence. Beckton's portrayal of Darby is infused with comedic timing and heartfelt sincerity, adding a delightful touch of levity to the play's heavier themes.


Director Joshua Price skilfully takes the audience on a wild ride of emotions and storylines by weaving together dialogue, movement, lighting, and sound to seamlessly transition between locations and tones. The rhythmic pace of the play keeps the audience engaged throughout the fleeting 60-minutes. The stage is adorned with newspapers and three bollard blocks that transform into versatile set pieces. The cast manipulates the blocks and their costumes themselves, keeping the audience informed of the shifting characters and settings without the need for elaborate backdrops.


Immi's fortified exterior, Sofia's unwavering resolve, and Darby's quest for love and acceptance serve as a reminder that while the world watches, it is the bold, decisive actions of individuals that can truly drive societal transformation. ‘Slap. Bang. Kiss.’ transcends the boundaries of traditional theatre to become a call-to-action for the younger generation to seize their collective power. It confronts the harsh realities faced by its characters and balances them with moments of triumph, painting a realistic yet hopeful view of our world.


Underground Theatre's rendition of this contemporary work left an unforgettable impact on the enthusiastic audiences who were fortunate enough to experience it during its short season. I look forward to seeing what they do next!


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