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Sagar Dreamcast

at The Newsroom

* * * - -

Extremely likable character comedy from multi-talented performer

Image of Sagar Dreamcast

Fiona Sagar returns to the Fringe with her third hour of fast-paced character comedy following Entitled and Sagar Mega Drive (she’s missed a trick not fitting in Sagar Master System in somewhere),  the gaming pun-loving comic having been nominated for Funny Women Best Show nominations for her two previous efforts.  Once she’s crammed her crowd into one of tiny rooms in the City Cafe like clothes into a bulging suitcase, she briefly nips out and totters back in as her foul-mouthed Scottish grandmother, come to tell us exactly what she thinks of Sagar’s career.  This kicks off a good-natured, crowd-pleasing showcase for the comedian.

Sagar is a versatile performer, flitting as easily between accents and roles as costumes.  As well as her irascible granny, there’s an aggressively winsome militant feminist substitute teacher, a leering men’s rights rapper, a put-upon Southern belle straight out of 1918 with a Stepford Wife grin, and a cheery Mexican chihuahua.  She inhabits each character believably, and her range is really impressive.

The through-line for the show is evidently the experience of women (albeit with one of them being a dog).  The characters are broad with the themes explored writ large, and with little need for the crowd to do too much sifting through subtext.  They are set up quickly, with economy and clarity and performed with boundless vitality.

The strongest character is the substitute primary teacher, who berates her young charges for their fondness for Disney princesses who perpetuate the suppression of women.  It’s not obvious why Sagar adopts an Australian accent, but the rising inflections of her delivery and the twittery sing-song cadence paints a lovely portrait of an increasingly mad-eyed zealot.  The audience responds, adopting their roles as children with enthusiasm.

The gran is a recognisable trope, exploring the performer’s own self-doubt while giving us the easy delights of old people swearing.  The rapper gives Sagar a chance to demonstrate some nimble word-play, and her skill with a potentially tricky bit of crowd work as she negs a bashful member of the audience.  Things sadly come a little unstuck with the Southern lady as the comedy is put very much on hold, and a sense of tragedy takes over.  It’s nicely performed, but blunt in its message and dampens the upbeat feel to some degree, the mood only partially recovered by the chihuahua and her chirpy neediness.

When gran returns to close out proceedings, this lifts the spirits again and we’re sent on our way with strains of ‘Danny Boy’ and a cheerful profanity, satisfied with a very good hour in the company of an excellent performer.