Review by Michelle Sutton
Sarah Carroll is a certified superstar, writing, producing and starring in the comedic coming-of-age cabaret Cherry. Cherry is an autobiographical tale told from Caroll’s perspective as a Katy Perry-obsessed teenager, starting in 2008 following through to her early 20s. It is full to the brim with upsettingly specific and vivid early noughts references including mentions of Supré tights, iPad nanos, mirror selfies with the digital camera on flash so your face would be blurred out and poking yourself in the eye whilst desperately trying to achieve the emo black eyeliner in the waterline that everyone rocked for a few years there. It sets the scene so well and so cleverly considering there is only one main actor, and we see the world entirely from her perspective. Through her eyes we meet the mean girls at school, the boy she is crushing on in her NIDA class, her subtle disapproving mum and more enthusiastic dad and we stay with her as her world slowly changes as she graduates and steps into herself and follows her passions overseas.
Cherry is set in The Boom Boom Room at the Emerging Artist Sharehouse, a small room that has been set up at Erskineville Town Hall which has been transformed into an intimate theatre space for emerging artists to perform their work at Sydney Fringe Festival. Carroll makes innovative use of the space, interacting with audience members, at one time frantically asking members of the audience to help her untangle her headphones and sitting in the back row of chairs after realising her tickets for the Katy Perry California Dreams tour are in the second last row of the entertainment centre. When the concert starts, The Boom Boom Room begins to smell like cotton candy, just like the entertainment centre did for Katy Perry’s tour, and later Carroll passes around signs that fans held up and asks the audience to put their phone torch lights in the air.
Marissa Saroca is the only other person on stage and serves many essential roles to the show. As the musical director of Cherry she plays the songs in the cabaret, and also undertakes the duties of a stagehand, passing props to Carroll, controls effects and also acts as minor characters including Caroll’s dad at different points. On this particular Friday night performance, she also sings Sarah’s vocal parts as she has started to lose her voice. Saroca also gives Caroll a different energy to bounce off and plays their pivotal part in the show extremely well and with a sense of joy and fun.
The show is very well written, supported by Nadia Townsend’s assistance as dramaturg. It is relatable, endearing and laugh-out-loud funny. Carroll is a spectacular talent, singlehandedly commanding the audience and shifting dynamics through the show pretty much through the force of her own energy and commitment. Her performance is vulnerable and bold and she also adlibs through the show, staying present in the moment with the audience addressing them directly and demonstrating even more of her sharp wit and honesty as an actor. At one hour Cherry runs for the perfect amount of time for a one-woman cabaret. The time absolutely flies due to the engaging, compelling script and the charisma of Sarah Carroll.
Cherry is a superb addition to the Emerging Artist Sharehouse at Sydney Fringe Festival. It feels very much as if you are reading someone’s diary or more accurately, their Tumblr blog from 2012. It is a wonderfully sweet showcase for Sarah Caroll’s talent as both an actor and writer. Cherry is a little gem of a show, it will make you laugh and cringe and smile and you will leave feeling like you are walking on a cotton candy cloud.