Lou Sanders stands at the entrance to Monkey Barrel ensuring that all those waiting can be seated and checking if there is room for any stragglers. This is a nice touch from a performer who has sold out her show in spite of the early time-slot. Her readiness to recount honest and raw observations (her dad faking his own death to avoid family responsibilities, multiple stepmothers, nascent sensuality) make her seem accessible but she tellingly stops short of mining the darker moments for comic effect.
Sanders is strongest when opening up about her relationships and the hypocrisy inherent in male-female interactions particularly when related to sex and power. She could cover an entire set with amusing anecdotes about general misadventures with men (and women) but on this occasion her focus is on the dichotomy between shame and embarrassment, the former being more “lasting and profound” and the latter “more fleeting”.
Her relationship with alcohol and subsequent owning (through performance) of these moments of her youth is only apparent in the subtext of her stories. A more explicit moment of self-reflection features a Welsh audience presuming that her drunken antics were part of a character, a moment which was key in her journey to stop drinking.
These examinations are punctuated with a series of sound cues and musical stings which, while undoubtedly useful for timing, are somewhat distracting. She is also keen to point out that this is a weaker set than usual with some commentary on lukewarm gags but her confidence carries her forth and she has a loyal core audience who enjoy every moment including the bum notes.
Sanders maintains a sort of quizzical openness which ensures that she is not overtly political or even particularly current. The aforementioned stage direction and time-slot seems a little incongruous, preventing any useful interaction and fragmenting her natural story-telling by introducing a homogeneous quality to the idiosyncratic material.