Wednesday 08th July

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Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Kendall’s journey through time and space leaves you laughing and moved in her most personal work to date.

The last time I saw Sarah Kendall perform live was at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, where she delivered Shaken – one of three powerful tales to formed her subsequent hit BBC Radio 4 Australian Trilogy series.  But while impressed by her engaging storytelling, I felt her brusqueness – exacerbated by the boisterous weekend Edinburgh crowd – lessened the impact of her message.

Two years on, that criticism can no longer be levelled.  Despite enduring a difficult time personally, Kendall’s become a much warmer performer, willing to share more personal material in new show One-Seventeen.

As with her previous work, One-Seventeen links the past with the present, but now there’s greater frankness when discussing the latter.  Kendall’s retained her no-nonsense delivery and caustic comedic tongue, but the more intimate moments – when she airs worries about motherhood and the fragility of life – draw the audience deeper into her narrative and help even the lower-brow punchlines to land (the best example being a playful twist to a story about a seemingly deluded grandmother).

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Category: Comedy

What’s On London Comedy Awards 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Now the New Year bells have finished chiming, it’s time to announce our Comedy Awards for the year just gone and news of where you can catch these fantastic acts in the months ahead.

There’s no shortage of talent around, so whittling down the vast forest of performers to a handful for each category has been tricky and some excellent comics have had to be overlooked.  On the plus side, that competition for bums on seats is driving artists onto new heights, constantly pushing boundaries of subject matter, delivery style and occasionally taste.

This is superb news for Londoners because, despite underlying political and economic uncertainty, its comedy scene is thriving.  While leading lights like Soho Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre and The Comedy Store will always drawn top acts and expectant audiences, it’s been fantastic to see less established venues such as 2Northdown and The Bill Murray host some of the biggest names in comedy this year, while monthly events like Suspiciously Cheap Comedy, Knock2bag and Rye Laughs regularly put on the best mixed bills in the country.

So take our advice and fill your 2018 with grins, chuckles and snorts by heading along to those venues or catching our top picks in stand-up, character, storytelling, musical, sketch and improvised comedy for 2017.

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Category: Comedy
Edinburgh-Festival-Fringe-2015

What’s On London’s Edinburgh Fringe Preview

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest arts event – officially starting today, we decided to follow the Highland herd and put together a list of the comedy shows we’re most looking forward to seeing this month and then subsequently in London.

Given the vast number of acts performing over the next month in this seventieth year of the Fringe, we can’t pretend our list is completely comprehensive, and apologise to the many worthy artists unmentioned below.  It reiterates just how spoilt for choice fans of live comedy currently are.  But we guarantee this: if you choose to see our suggested stand-up, character, storytelling, musical and sketch comedians, you won’t go far wrong.

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Category: Comedy
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Wil Greenway: The Way The City Ate The Stars review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Greenway elevates the art of storytelling with this lyrical, moving, funny and compassionate tale of love and tragedy in South-East Australia.

Eleven months ago, I reviewed Sarah Kendall’s show, Shaken.  In hindsight, and having listened to more of her work since on Radio 4, she perhaps deserved more than three stars.  However, I stand by the assertion that for storytelling to work effectively live, “it needs a higher laughter-count, or a more vulnerable and relatable narrator.  Kendall’s very talented, but projects an Antipodean toughness from the moment she bounds onstage talking forcefully about dick drawings and bowel movements.  As a result, she finds it hard to generate much sympathy from an admittedly difficult crowd, necessary before embarking on a story that portrays her younger self so unfavourably.”

I restate this to contrast Kendall’s countryman, Wil Greenway, who last night delivered an equally challenging story at Soho Theatre with a different outcome.  When he entered the stage after a short introduction from his folksy, melodious backing musicians (Will Galloway and Kathryn Langshaw), I was ready for a similarly forthright, Kendall-esque approach, given the Melburnian’s solid frame, thick auburn beard and topknot.  But it quickly became clear that Greenway’s a gentler type of performer and someone who could end up going very far.

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Category: Comedy
London

What’s On, London? 16th – 18th June 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

It’s been another tragic week for London with the full consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire still emerging.  One thing’s clear: never again can people be exposed to such danger.  Londoners must do all we can to ensure our politicians act quickly to help those affected and prevent any repeat.  The only silver lining to this awful cloud has been the response: money donated, items provided and fundraising efforts set in motion.  So while again we have no choice but to try to carry on with our lives, making the most of the positive things happening in our city (listed below), we include a special section highlighting the events coming up to raise funds for the victims and their families.

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Category: Clubs
London

What’s On, London? 8th – 11th June 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Last weekend was a tragic one for London.  But we can’t let mindless, hateful morons stop us doing what we do best: making the most of the amazing things this great city has to offer everyone – whatever your tastes and interests.  We carry on.  We must and we will.  With that in mind, the next few days offer plenty of opportunities for Londoners to seek escapism, to laugh and to marvel at the creative contributions people make to our shared culture every day.

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Category: Art
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Sarah Kendall: Shaken review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Despite being an excellent storyteller and multi-award winning comedian, Kendall can’t quite harmonise the two in her new show about the serious consequences of lying.

Shaken begins with Sarah Kendall giving a window into her therapy sessions, to illustrate she’s a flawed human being who feels a constant need to entertain.  That is, she’s a comedian.  Then, as the therapist begins to lose patience with her constant joking and evasion, Kendall’s put on the spot and asked to explain why she’s the way she is.

This moves into the main part of the show, in which Kendall answers her therapist by talking about an incident that happened in her home town of Newcastle, New South Wales, in 1989.  It’s a quiet place, polarised between the onscreen action in the local cinema and the mundanity of life in the adjoining carpark and beyond.  “If Ferris Bueller had been set in my town,” she says, “he’d have smoked a bong, had a wank and gone back to bed.”

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Category: Comedy