2015 Funny Women Awards runner-up Sarah Keyworth performs with a certain sparkle in her eye that creates a wonderful warmth between her and her audience. So much so that on this particular evening she can inform them they are being very strange and not lose them, but make them try harder to be a better audience. Perhaps they felt a little uncomfortable with her opening gags about a polyamorous relationship flummoxing her or her joke regarding her knowledge of what LGBTQ+ stands for. However, she quickly won anyone who was feeling worthy round soon enough. Even the woman eating houmous in the front row.
Dark Horse is about gender binaries, identity and girlhood. For the last few years, Sarah has worked as a nanny to two children, a little boy and little girl; Baxter and Roly respectively. While Baxter’s confidence has grown over the years, Sarah has noticed Roly become less confident and increasingly ashamed of herself, bowing down to the pressures society places on young girls.
Recognising this pressure from her own childhood growing up as what we call a ‘tomboy’ – a dismissive term as Sarah notes, designed because our gender binaries are too rigid rather than the little girl in question is too loud or dirty. Roly is not a ‘tomboy’, she has a passion for My Little Pony and a brilliant imagination but as she has turned seven she is becoming very strict with herself, she’s not to be ‘bossy’ or ‘slutty’. It could have been presented in two parts, focusing first on Sarah’s childhood and adolescence and then Roly’s. But Sarah expertly interweaves the two stories and there are no flabby parts to this show.
With a fantastic fierceness, Sarah puts forward not a defence but a passionate offence for all women, be they femme, butch, gay, bi, poly, promiscuous or Roly. A confident debut, with great reason. I don’t think I’m the only one predicting recognition for this comedian in the very near future.
Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse is at 17:30 at Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker Two until 26th August. For tickets and more information click here!
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