Sarah Kendall is an understated stage presence. In One-Seventeen, she discusses serious issues, darker memories of her past, and even the solar system. As she puts it, it’s a show about luck: whether our experiences can ever be viewed objectively as good or bad luck, or whether the use of hindsight can entirely change perspective. It isn’t a consistent laugh out loud performance, but the audience gain a humorous glimpse into the inner workings of Kendall’s family dynamic, and her unique view of the world.
Kendall is quick to point out her fixation with negativity and self-criticism. She’s openly ready to challenge the audience’s awkwardness towards her comedy, and refuses to shy away from the most personal days of her life. Therein lies the problem with One-Seventeen. Sarah Kendall is a skilled comedian, however her punchlines fail to lift the awkwardness away from discussions of cancer, or car crashes or the day her son was diagnosed with autism. It’s a very difficult line to walk, and Kendall falls on the serious side.
Despite some stories remaining in the realm of personal discussion rather than stand-up, Kendall’s show improves vastly throughout. Through the start feels uncertain, the combination of anecdote and galaxy metaphor ends in a wonderfully powerful and profound final speech, which brings the show together. She manages to get the audience on side and unashamedly bears her soul throughout.
Words: Catriona Davidson
Picture: Rosalind Furlong
Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen, Assembly George Square Studios, Aug 2-27, 7pm