Sarah Kendall – Persona

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Sarah Kendall – Persona


The audience murmurs in sympathy, thinking how awful it must have been to sit through a 24-hour flight next to someone else’s toddler.

But there’s a twist: “Yeah, I’m that mum.”

Kendall threads the story of her two-year-old daughter through the show, wondering what she will think of her mother’s acting work, fairytales or hip-hop videos. In between, she tells of her frustration with everyone from fruit vendors to directors of beer ads and yoga instructors who oppose “the medicalisation of childbirth”.

This (very reasonable) anger gets channeled into a high-energy show. At one point Kendall is so annoyed by a sexist hip-hop video that she imagines what it would look like if the genders were reversed. She would be dancing in a club and then gay men would start kissing each other and she would yell out instructions, She frames all this as an idea to pitch to MTV, and the pitch continues for some time, but one of Kendall’s strengths is coaxing the audience to come along for the ride.

These persuasive skills also came in handy when she performed a self-penned sequel to The Ugly Duckling warning of the dangers of beauty. Kendall is a storyteller, but one who knows the importance of keeping the jokes up all along the way. She also lets some punchlines unfold slowly, with different parts of the audience breaking into laughter when they realise where she’s heading.

The show included about one minute of public transport jokes that made me draw a sad face in my notebook, but all the rest is thoughtful and very funny. You definitely don’t need a toddler to appreciate it.