Edinburgh Fringe review – Sarah Kendall, Shaken

Liar liar show’s on fire

Sarah Kendall comedian

Total class from Sarah Kendall. Since she made the move to storytelling standup it’s difficult to imagine her doing anything else. In her latest show, called Shaken, she reveals that she’s been at it for quite a while.

As a 13-year-old growing up in Newcastle, New South Wales, and slightly struggling on the friend count, she found herself in an embarrassing situation after running to school, and told a whopper to get out of it. Except, it didn’t get her out of it. Kendall describes in excruciating detail how in fact it landed her deeper and deeper in the mire.

Pitted against her was sergeant Miller, who was the only one to not believe her, while her teacher, Miss Perkins, not only fell for it, she made it worse. Characters from previous shows – the cool girl, Abi, and the school loser, George Peach – are reprised for cameo roles. One of the funnier moments comes when the lie blows up and becomes a truly community-wide issue, only for her argument to start to derail on the issue of Tom Hanks films.

Meanwhile, we find that she is telling this whole story to her therapist as an adult, too. He can hardly believe it, and wants to break down the layers of reality that Kendall builds up. This is in part what elevates this above a normal storytelling show. Far from being just “and then, and then”, it takes us into Kendall’s psyche, and asks what makes her (and indeed us) insist on making up stories and deflect from the truth.

Kendall doesn’t go chasing laughs an awful lot, and it’s arguable how much of a comedy shout is, but that’s not something that you dwell upon afterwards. There are enough comic moments that reveal themselves as the story progresses. It’s delivered in Kendall’s wilfully understated way that pulls you in and keeps you in.

A seed that she plants at the start of this show comes to fruition, for an ending that bursts with a variety of emotions.

4 stars
Review by Paul Fleckney

• Sarah Kendall, Shaken is at the Assembly Gardens Theatre at various times

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