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Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen

at Assembly George Square Studios

* * * * -

Inspirational storytelling that sometimes sacrifices laughs for gravitas.

Image of Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen

So named for the time of the morning at which Sarah Kendall likes to treat herself to a bathroom visit and mull over the really big questions in life, One-Seventeen is a raw, emotional and at times uproariously funny look into her life and her outlook. Beautifully demonstrated by a Chinese proverb, the show’s basic message is that we can never know if an event is good or bad until its consequences have been fully realised. Embracing this way of thinking has allowed her – and can allow us – to get the fuck on with things and stop worrying so much.

That’s the moral at the heart of this story, and it’s certainly a story with a lot of heart. Darting back and forth between her childhood and the present day, Kendall revisits a whole host of personal traumas and mines them for cathartic, comedic and philosophical effect. There are car crashes and marriage breakdowns, diagnoses and personality disorders. Unsurprisingly, the mood remains sombre for much of the show, but Kendall’s talent lies in rescuing a story from the brink of despair with a blind-siding one-liner or an astute observation. The show is loosely tied together by an overarching cosmic theme; Haley’s comet, alien abduction and the 1986 Challenger disaster all feature strongly, but it’s Kendall’s own personal experiences of these events, and her recreation of them for our amusement, which breathe power into the subject.

This is not conventional stand-up, per se. Not that Kendall isn’t a funny person or indeed that her act doesn’t contain some excellent jokes, but rather laughter plays second fiddle to reflection far more frequently than the other way around. Those looking for a laugh-a-minute show might do well to keep moving, but for a touching, entertaining and inspirational hour of storytelling, Kendall is an stellar choice.