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Sarah Kendall: Persona

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Sarah Kendall has kept a fairly low-profile of late, both in her native Australia and in the UK, where she now lives. That’s because she’s been busy being a mother, a fact which drives this lively stand-up show.

But don’t let your heart sink at the though of another comic talking about their child; for once Kendall’s dispatched a functional routine about the strains of taking her terrible toddler on a long-haul flight, she has on her mind the loftier thoughts of what sort of world her daughter will grow up in.

She’s no prude, but is concerned by the encroachment of the sexual into the mainstream – from R&B videos, to pole dancing being considered an empowering way of exercising. This was all brought into focus when she read her daughter the Ugly Duckling, with its dubious moral that being pretty is the solution to all that teasing.

So, yes, this is a show about sexual politics, but Kendall is no fervent tub-thumper, but an astute observational comic with an intelligent point of view. All her anecdotes, from her humiliation at the hands of casting directors wanting to fill demeaning roles to the inappropriately bawdy banter of a London greengrocer, stay true to the theme while being made irresistibly funny by Kendall’s sarcastic exaggeration.

She has a keen eye for the absurdity of these situations, which she highlights by reimagining them from another angle – such as a new rap video which turns the misogynist tables on the men involved, or, her slightly theatrical finale, a sequel to the Ugly Duckling which imagines the seedy, vacuous world our eponymous hero finds herself in now she’s a swan. This could do with a bit of editing, but it builds the laughs and ties up all the themes.

Kendall’s a slick, entertaining performer with firm opinions and an eye for the ridiculous – and that has to make for a winning ticket.

Review date: 9 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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