Sarah-May Philo: Class

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Poor Sarah-May Philo seems to be struggling with a situation beyond her experience. A group of squiffy lads in her front row – nearly half the audience – want to lark about with each other as if watching the footy in their own front room. She tries various, increasingly exasperated techniques to try to wrest control, but nothing seems to work, and sometimes her interventions are positively ill-judged, as she returns to kick a sleeping hornets’ nest.

She’s not alone in struggling with this disruptive element. The far more experienced Sam Avery, in this same room straight afterwards, has much more success in shushing them, but even he eventually admits defeat and has to ask them to leave.

This lack of respect means Philo gets to deliver very little of her planned show, abandoning plenty of routines before they conclude. It makes it hard to judge, but most of what we hear seems too wordy, like she’s having a bit of a chat about being single, Catholic and an ex-teacher rather than delivering well-honed material.

She seems pleasant enough, but where are the punchlines? The lack of focus probably contributes to the chaos: whenever she has the lads’ attention, she doesn’t do much with it.

Her songs are more idiot-proof, but again seem limited in ambition and payoffs, mildly amusing at best. She has talent as an opera singer, which she demonstrates only briefly as a bit of a party piece at the end, and could probably do more with this unusual angle.

But over this bumpy 45 minutes or so, we have few jokes and learn little about what manner of person Philo really is. Better circumstances might have yielded better laughs, but that’s far from certain.

Review date: 20 Oct 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Manchester Apotheca Bar

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