One of the best things about the Fringe is discovering fresh new voices, and Tamsyn Kelly is the perfect example. This Cornish actress and comedian is hundreds of miles from where she grew up, but her vivid storytelling takes the whole audience back to a rural council estate and balances entertainment value with what must be some difficult revelations.
Kelly is honest about her childhood and mines it for humour even when the audience isn’t sure if it’s appropriate to laugh or not (a case of politeness, rather than jokes missing the mark). “My dad would fight anyone on the estate, including me,” she says, matter-of-factly. This isn’t an X Factor-style sob story; it’s the life she knew, and the life she carved out with her mother, brothers and brilliant grandad. There’s a fun tribute to her grandad at the end, too.
In this particular performance, Kelly’s brother and mum were in the audience, which could have thrown her completely, but she stayed professional, ad-libbed to keep them involved, and did them proud.
Though Kelly says she loved living on the estate, and she captures its characters for the audience, her anecdotes about domestic violence are inevitably a world away from the usual twenty-something stand-up fallbacks on being middle class, their parents’ divorce, or going on a lads’ holiday. Instead, she talks about her mum’s disability, why she thinks having three children is overkill, and how her brother ended up looking like “a real-life Pop-Up Pirate” (one of many great pop culture references). This falls in stark contrast to her new life at drama school in London, and her dating exploits.
In 2019 it feels like the gap between rich and poor is widening, and those in power don’t deserve to be there. “This is not a meritocracy,” Kelly says, and she acknowledges her own luck and her support system, which helped her succeed. Her family aren’t the only ones who want her to do well – you can’t fail to cheer her on after watching this engaging hour.
Tamsyn Kelly: Petroc is at Just the Tonic at the Caves at 20:00 until 25th August. For tickets and more information click here!