Sunandra Loves Britney | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Sunandra Loves Britney

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Sunanda is a truculent powerhouse of a performer with a coming-out story they’re compelled to tell. But this debut is a bit too messy and in-your-face to get that over to best effect and is relatively light on laughs for a comedy festival offering.

As a gender-non-conforming lesbian, it was a struggle to find their identity – let alone have it accepted – in a traditional, insular Punjabi community living in Bangkok. In the end, Britney Spears proved the route to self-discovery.

In an agitated onslaught of skits, Sunanda energetically dances to some of the hits; shows off the academic papers they wrote about their icon and plays out a long interview snippet – all to assert their devotion to the pop princess, which lasted well into their university years.

Sunanda calms down a little in the stronger strands which tell the personal story without the Britney prism. But it’s always an intense – and tense – performance, fuelled by the agitated energy of someone finally allowed to tell their story and desperate to blurt it out. They are always watchable, even if the narrative gets away from them, and in the act-outs, the comic proves both an animated performer and a damn fine zombie.

There are a smattering of decent gags and at least one truly groanworthy pun, but they feel like an afterthought in a story that takes too long to find its focus. But this brash debut nonetheless establishes Sunanda as a force-of-nature performer with something to offer – especially now they made the best newcomer shortlist this morning.

• Sunanda Loves Britney is on at Storyville at 7.45pm until April 23 and 6.45pm on the 24th.

Review date: 22 Apr 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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