FRINGE 2018: Why you need to see... Sarah Keyworth
Who: Sarah Keyworth
What: Dark Horse
The great thing about comedy - or any form of expression - is that there's more than one way to skin the proverbial mog. It is part of the reason why you can watch a plethora of different shows about exactly the same subject and enjoy each on their own merit. In fact taking in various shows on a single theme can help enrich your overall appreciation.
Edinburgh is hosting a number of comics exploring the themes of gender identity and societal expectations thereof. The very nature of such shows is that they are extremely personal and vary hugely in terms of substance, style and tone. Sarah Keyworth's Dark Horse is aptly titled because it could stealthily be the most powerful, and easily one of the best.
The debut offering is beautifully structured and all the more profound for it. Spanning two generations, we are introduced to Sarah and Roly. Sarah is Keyworth as an adolescent, whilst Roly is a spirited young girl for whom she now acts as a nanny. Through their eyes and actions, we experience how society bends and blunts natural behaviour to make girls more 'normal'.
Keyworth has a friendly charisma on stage that is utterly disarming and makes you extremely receptive to what she’s saying. She clearly enjoys engaging the audience and has the confidence and generosity to afford them the big laugh. Any response that particularly piques her interest is welcomed with a wry smile and wicked dart of the eyes. Like she's thinking 'I can use this!'
In recounting her own experiences as a kid, Keyworth is never noticeably bitter. She is able to make any misfortune achingly funny whilst maintaining its resonance. From being called Pavel Nedved at school, to trying to conform to heterosexual norms, she finds humour without making light. Although when speaking of Roly's resolution to be less 'bossy', or her learning of the word 'slut', Keyworth is clearly saddened.
It would be easy to fall into despair about how little has changed, and how young girls continue to feel pressured into being something they are not, but ultimately this show is hopeful and for good reason. After all, some things have changed - unlike a confused and picked on Sarah, young Roly has a guide and ally to advise her and help her navigate the way.
Dark Horse is a must-see show for all sorts of reasons, and Sarah Keyworth is the best gay Jedi Master a girl could have.
You can buy tickets for Dark Horse here.