Sarah Quinn In Other People's Problems

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Canada-based Australian Sarah Quinn gets to show off her acting chops in this triptych of character pieces, all based around the self-help industry. But the writing is weak, and the show does little to earn its place in a comedy festival, with the emphasis on performance, rather than jokes.

The first of the three characters is Louise Furstenberg, yet another contribution to the overcrowded genre of comedy life coaches spouting cheesy, self-affirming aphorisms with a go-get-’em attitude, despite the fact their own life isn’t in order.

The script, by Barry nominee DeAnne Smith, gets the tone of those awful slogans right, and there are a couple of neat linguistic twists – but the back-story, about an acrimonious split with her business partner, is laboured, and the performance over-the-top.

More restrained is Casey, the teen agony aunt doling out advice to her peers via a YouTube-style channel; tackling everything from Facebook etiquette to the black dog of depression. She inhabits the character but again the narrative is such a leaden affair about evil corporations, you feel it might have been written by an over-earnest High School student itself. (In fact Quinn and Samuel Booth wrote these other scenes).

Finally, we are introduced a sad middle-aged singleton trying to boost her confidence and sex appeal through a self-help tape. There’s a poignancy here, but the pace is unremittingly slow and there’s no aim for humour at all, unless you count reeling off a list of rude words.

Quinn’s a charismatic performer, and she makes these creations believable and distinctive, despite the failings of the script. But there are very few laughs, and even as a theatre piece it doesn’t really engage. Take my advice, and give this one a miss.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 9 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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