Sarah Kendall: My Very First Kidnapping

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Moving away from straight stand-up to telling just one great story, illustrated with sketches, Sarah Kendall’s new show is a laugh-out-loud delight from start to finish.

Not a line is wasted in this taut, funny, theatrical hour. The gags come hard and fast, there’s a compelling narrative to command your interest and the comic performances are faultless.

Kendall tells the tale of her college initiation in which she and a fellow 18-year-old were dumped in the Belanglo State Forest, two hours outside Sydney. In fancy dress and with no money, their challenge was to find a way back to university.

But the prank had a terrifying edge: a serial killer dubbed the ‘backpacker murderer’ was at large at the time. So when the two young students were found by a menacing redneck pig farmer, they were understandably gripped by mortal fear.

Kendall plays this for drama as much as comedy. We believe the girls are in genuine peril, and the anxiety ratchets up. But the show is beautifully bathetic, with hilarious observations temporarily breaking the tension, without ruining the menacing atmosphere for the sake of a cheap gag.

It is brilliantly put-together. Jeremy Lion star Justin Edwards and the hilariously expressive Joanna Neary have been drafted in to play all of the supporting cast, from Kendall’s easily distracted mother to her Guns N Roses obsessed brother. There’s playful out-of-character banter between the three comics, yet again it never gets in the way of telling the tale in hand.

Each has perfect timing, able to wring laughs where they’re needed then twist into a moment of fearful stress. The script is slick and sleek, filled to bursting with callbacks, perfectly-pitched gags and evocative description, and the direction, by Kendall’s partner Henry Naylor, is faultless.

It was a bold decision for Kendall to ditch her Perrier-nominated observational stand-up for something more theatrical, and it’s paid off with a truly brilliant show that’s just got to be seen.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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