Review of Sara Pascoe at Harlow Playhouse

News / Wed 3rd Dec 2014 at 02:18pm

By Siobhan Wood

THE seats around the edge of the Studio Theatre at Harlow Playhouse were filled with a fairly equally mixed crowd of men and women, young and old, but the two tables at the front were empty. Sara Pascoe appeared on the stage and told us that she had never played at a venue set out like this. She assured us the empty seats were because she is very selective about who can have tickets to her show: “A lot of people in Harlow are troublemakers – I’d rather play to an empty dance floor.”

At Sara’s request, and on the promise that she doesn’t pick on people or ask questions, some audience members moved to sit at the tables and the show began. Sara has been doing comedy for seven years and her experience is evident. She was completely at ease throughout, even when being heckled, which happened a few times – maybe just because it was a Saturday night, maybe because something in Sara’s confidence makes some people want to challenge her. You can tell that she loves her subjects, speeding up when she gets into it but without it turning into a lecture you can’t follow, and almost giving us two gigs in the space of one.

At no point does the show get preachy and Sara brazenly deals with topics that could make her unpopular or unfashionable, although probably only with exactly the type of people the material focuses on. It’s hard to argue with Sara’s solution to that Page Three Problem, and all women need is “snazzy pants and a pithy quote about Syria.” I snorted with laughter a lot throughout, especially when she talked about how “some of my trousers are liars” and at her descriptions of what she imagined fame would bring her when she was younger.

Sara greeted the second heckler of the night with “hang on, there’s a new character in town,” and got a totally deserved round of applause after responding to a question, about how she could say humans went from monkeys to consciousness, by explaining evolution. Sara is very intelligent, which is interesting in itself, but her undeniable comedic talent made the show really engaging; she came across as a storyteller with a motive, tired of the old cliches and actively trying to bring our thinking forward. It was a relief to just relax knowing the laughs of recognition would keep coming and wonder if I would identify as much with the next story, and how she would tie it all together.

I had seen Sara on a few of her many TV appearances and read reviews of this tour but wasn’t expecting the raw, poignant and bittersweet note the night ended on. I was quite moved by her honesty. The show really was a full frontal glimpse into her life and I hope that, between changing society’s attitude towards “being a woman” and finishing her screenplay, Sara carries on doing her style of comedy.

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