Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes | Edinburgh Fringe review by Julia Chamberlain
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Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes

Edinburgh Fringe review by Julia Chamberlain

Sarah Kendall’s facility for blending laughter, heartache and the big questions in life is as strong as ever in this hour that whizzes by, but lingers in the soul for a while after.

She began the show with the customary joshing of the audience, half-flattering, half-mocking them for not being the raucous, laughing, smiley groups she sees trampling around town. Instead, they are the more measured, solo, downcast types who fit her demographic. She pumped a bit of energy into them and announced her first section, Creation.
 
This theme was inspired by her nine-year-old needing a bit more information about how the egg and the sperm actually get to meet. Cue some ‘well this is awkward’ gurning and a brutally frank mother and daughter discussion about the yuck quality of boys. The unglamorous challenges of child-rearing got the strong laughs rolling. 

Breaking the show into chapters allowed her to give insight into the creative life, where writer’s block, diminishing confidence and self-sabotage are part of the daily grind. A trip to the theatre to meet her elderly, upper-class agent is a trip out, a break from being mum. After star-spotting in the audience, the Three Sisters turned out to be bum-numbingly dull (Hurrah! Someone needed to say it), and she encounters a sad young man on the way out, processing his girlfriend’s infidelity and unable to move on.
 
The next chapter is a trip to Los Angeles, fraught with anxiety even from check-in, with Kendall betraying far too much knowledge about plane crashes and suffering the body-clock turmoil of a long flight. We meet supercilious airline staff, an irascible, kick-ass 70-year-old and an old favourite, Sarah’s  mum phoning from Australia with her characteristic peacock-with a-sore-throat-shriek to deliver the latest local irrelevancies.
 
Kendall is always spellbinding, and the undercurrent of anxiety and depression that ran through the show (and her life) is poignant, even as the sitcom-style anecdotes kept the mood light and boisterous. 
 
It was a delightful piece, radio-ready, as always. This is comedy with a gentle, beating heart and a lively voice, a happy combination of domestic and professional challenges peppered with bigger questions and some excellent advice from a nine-year-old. 

 This kind of show needs a category of its own – it’s not po-faced like some storytelling and it’s not raucous comedy, but humane instead. ’Radio 4 friendly’ doesn’t yet have its own section in the Fringe brochure, but it would be a popular strand.

Review date: 15 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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