Thursday, 3 April 2014

Sarah Kendall in Touchdown, April 1, 2013 ***

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Old Met Shop, Melbourne Town Hall, until April 20, 2014 
Star rating:***
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also in Herald Sun online. KH
Sassy Sarah’s tale of teenage angst  

Sassy redhead, Sarah Kendall, forces us to relive our school days through her teen memoir about adolescent angst and winning and losing friends.

Looking like a teen in her jeans and boyish checked shirt, she energetically describes her experiences as the incompetent player in the girls’ touch football team in her Newcastle school in 1992.

Kendall comically and vividly portrays herself as a 15 year-old loser extraordinaire: absurdly tall, ginger afro, braces on her teeth, nervous sweats and unfashionable, untannable skin.

These days, Kendall is youthful, casual, engaging and, with her English rose skin and golden hair, she would be perfectly cast wearing a Victorian gown in a British period piece.

She devoted the entire hour to the evolving tale of her friendship with Abbie, the prettiest girl at school, and with Derek, the sweet, Canadian exchange student who has no facility for history because he can’t remember famous names.

Kendall’s delivery is fast and cheeky, and her comedy arises from the surrounding characters and the related teenage calamities that elevate the anxiety level for those who had a hard time at school.

She channels her mother with her weirdly strident voice and hilariously outdated, 1980s lingo, then gives a wicked portrayal of Miss Perkins, the permanently hungover librarian who has a Neil Diamond obsession.

We cringe and laugh at the cruel insensitivity of teens when 15 year-old Kendall bonds with Abbie by graffiti-ing photos in a gruesome library book about shark attack victims, and we wince when she unwittingly betrays Abbie with a naive comment after seeing Jaws IV: The Revenge.

She handles with alacrity the jokes that don’t work (It was a problem with timing, not the gag) and engages the audience with her bouncy and affable manner.

Her depiction of the clumsiness of adolescents, their awkward interactions and desperate need for friendship and love that makes Kendall’s show funny.

By Kate Herbert

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