Sarah Kendall: One Seventeen is a story about luck and timing, made up of lots of little stories woven together. It’s a raw, emotional and often funny journey through the lives of Kendall and those closest to her. The stories flow beautifully, winding through time and crossing over each other to tie the show together, and add humour with some very funny recurring jokes.
Kendall has a wonderful ability to describe the different places which feature in her show, painting beautiful, vivid pictures which transport the audience to the Australia of her childhood and the London of her present life. We relive the moments of tension, fear, sadness and joy along with her – and even though I saw the show a week into the Fringe, it felt like Kendall was telling her story just to us, for the first time.
The show is built on a handful of characters – mostly Kendall’s family members – who the audience get to know over the course of the hour. She describes her subjects’ traits and personalities and the relationships between them in such detail that I was drawn into the story, and found myself feeling emotionally connected to these people I had never met, cheering on their successes and lamenting bad news.
The show is by no means laugh-a-minute, but it isn’t supposed to be. The emotional journey is interspersed with moments of hilarity – sometimes with jokes or dynamic impressions which stand alone, and sometimes with funny lines that bring light relief to an otherwise tense or emotionally heavy anecdote.
Kendall struck up an easy connection with the audience in a few off-the-cuff comments, and this added to the feeling of intimacy created by the raw, personal stories that she let us in on. If there’s any artistic embellishment to her material then Kendall is an extraordinary actor; she seemed genuinely affected by the show’s content. She wasn’t alone, as this intensely powerful story is told so well that it’s thought-provoking and moving, as well as entertaining.