There is a quote that David Sedaris uses on all of his books that goes: ‘A humorist par excellence, he can make Woody Allen appear ham-tongued, Oscar Wilde a drag.’ Well, if you were using it to describe Sarah Kendall you could add ‘and David Sedaris a dullard’.
As a live storyteller, Kendall is second to none. Running the gambit of hilarious to sad and deeply personal, One-seventeen is almost beat perfect. Telling a story of worrying about her parents seemingly impending divorce in 1986, and her son’s diagnosis as being on the autism spectrum in 2017, the entire show is done masterfully. Having sat through a large number of shows at this point, you get to the point in most Edinburgh hours where you zone out and are ready for the show to end, but with Kendall you want it to go on forever. As such, I would be very interested to see if her brand of storytelling would translate to a prose collection, of the Sedaris variety.
I don’t want to give too much away of the plot, or the twists, but Kendall has such a way with bringing the various odd characters from her life to the stage: a childhood friend smuggling a cat, an alien fantasist grandmother, her screeching, overprotective mother, that every character feels fully realised, and by the end of the hour you feel as if you know these people, almost as if you actually had these conversations with them.
As a reviewer, I worry about throwing around too many superlatives, but I truly did love this show (particularly as it was staged in a lecture hall that I have spent so many classes in, rarely feeling so inspired), and I can quite confidently say it is my first five-star show of this year.
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