Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Secrets and Lies

A surprising amount of honesty and acceptance comes out in these shows about secrets, lies and infidelity

Feature by Jenni Ajderian | 15 Aug 2016
  • Sarah Kendall

Sarah Kendall is bracketed as a storytelling comedian, and in Shaken [★★★★] she details how much of a storyteller she was long before becoming a comedian. This is the story of an enormous lie that affected an entire community, and one which haunts Kendall to this day.

This tales-within-tales framework is prefaced by a confession that she has a habit of embellishing stories to make them more interesting and make people like her more, making the rest of the show a game of smoke and mirrors. We’re given a grain of truth, but the rest could be complete fabrication, and Kendall plays with this balance between fact and fiction with great finesse, the difference coming down to individual words at times.

The stories come easily, well rehearsed but naturalistic in the telling, and are sprinkled with quick one-liners that keep the tone light most of the way through. A phenomenal show to give you tingles and make you question everything comedians tell you.

Briony Redman, photo: Steve Ullathorne

Bubbling over with enthusiasm, Briony Redman gives us The Secret Show [★★★] with a promise to reveal some deep dark secrets through stories and sketches. Effortlessly feel-good and with nicely-aligned scenes, Redman does reveal a few tidbits of information about herself, but this isn’t quite enough to have us completely involved.

Two main stories are told throughout the hour: that of a PI and that of one woman’s surprisingly interesting fate. These are told with slapdash physical humour and a few jokes that don’t quite land, while other sketches don’t seem too focussed. The gags that do work, however, are delightful, whether they’re a quick pun or a piece of choreography snuck into the overall structure. Redman knows that giving us stories means that we will have some expectation of how they will unfold, and she plays with these expectations well, at times drawing from her audience directly to make some great moments of improvised comedy.

Ellie Taylor, photo: Karla Gowlett

Revealing far more about her own infidelities, or lack thereof, Ellie Taylor’s Infidelliety [★★★★] gives us a confident hour of stand-up and food for thought about the rules of a modern relationship. Taylor riffs on the idea of having extra-marital affairs, explaining the impulse towards them as a newly-wed and as someone who, by her own reckoning, hasn’t had enough sexual partners.

In doing so, she talks about female sexuality in detail, never shying away from her own personal preferences or personal history. She is an agile and commanding performer, with a great amount of self-awareness that lends itself both to the topic at hand and to performing stand-up. Far from a piece of just-saying-what-everyone’s-thinking comedy, Infidelliety gives us a well thought-out and probably agonised-over mental battle between the desire to keep a partner but also to have sexual freedom and greater experience.

Sarah Kendall: Shaken, Assembly George Square Studios (Five), 3-28 Aug 6.45pm, £7-12.50
Briony Redman: The Secret Show, Pleasance Courtyard (This), 3-29 Aug (not 16), 1pm, £6-9
Ellie Taylor: Infidelliety, Just the Tonic at The Tron, 4-28 Aug (not 15) 2.20pm, £6/PWYW