Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh
I am in awe of Sarah Kendall. Her story-telling skills are extraordinarily good. There is real artfulness in the way she manipulates her audience, expounding all the tricks she employs before using them to full effect. It’s clever, canny stuff – and I love it.
In Shaken, she returns to her adolescence in Newcastle, Australia – a topic that served her equally well in last year’s A Day in October. The hapless George Peach even puts in another appearance, although he’s very much a bit player in this year’s tale. This time, Kendall is ostensibly analysing why storytelling is so important to her, but the main focus is an account of a lie she told when she was just thirteen, and how the resulting attention was so intoxicating, it made her careless of the consequences. And we know all along that it’s not quite true (“The gist of it is true,” she tells her therapist in an opening sequence; she’s clarifying her position right from the start), but she draws us in, beguiles us with a Google ‘fact check’, makes us laugh and squirm and, in the end – damn it, she’s done it again – she makes us cry.
Sarah Kendall was by far the best comedian we saw at last year’s Fringe, and Shaken is another triumph. Her performance is spell-binding, deceptive in its apparent simplicity. She deserves the attention she so clearly craves. Give it to her. Buy a ticket. It’s not a purchase you’ll regret.