Review: Sarah Keyworth - Pacific at Pleasance Courtyard

The new haircut’s a razor-sharp move. Sarah Keyworth opens the show by telling us how her recently re-styled quiff is bringing all the girls rather than the boys to the yard. The apparently light, fluffy introductory banter actually sets the tone for a whip-smart, intelligent exploration of gender and, in particular, Keyworth’s own relationship with masculinity.

Last year’s well-deserved Best Newcomer nominee sees herself as a small woman trying her best to be a modern man, which isn’t a walk in the park. To demonstrate this fact, she shares ridiculously funny, self-deprecating anecdotes of life with her OCD girlfriend – fellow comedian Catherine Bohart, who’s appearing just across the road. When an attempted robbery threatens their safety and, indeed, Catherine’s pastry fork stash, Keyworth reflects on their seemingly pre-defined roles in the relationship.

There’s talk of beans, boobs and basil jam as we’re introduced to the rest of the Keyworth clan. It’s a well-paced, supremely-relaxed performance. Even the sudden discovery of an 11-year-old in the audience doesn’t dent her confidence – although, like the rest of us, she must have been wondering why the jiggins their parents thought it appropriate to let them tag along to such an adult-themed gig.

There’s passion and poignancy in spades as she delivers a powerful message on the dangers of transphobia. The hour ends with a very personal story of a work trip to Australia. It’s super-funny but also squirm-in-the-seat-a-wee-bit uncomfortable, cleverly encapsulating the difficulties and dangers of defining gender roles. Sharply-written and beautifully delivered, this set clearly demonstrates how much Keyworth has honed and developed her skills in just a year. Much like memories of her pre-pubescent love trysts in Claire’s Accessories, this is a little gem of a show. 

Sarah Keyworth: Pacific, Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul – 26 Aug (not 13), 5.45pm

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