Tamsyn Kelly @ Just the Tonic, Caves

A strong comic voice is hampered by occasional tonal dissonance in Tamsyn Kelly's second Fringe hour

Review by Charlie Ralph | 23 Aug 2019
  • Tamsyn Kelly @ Just the Tonic, Caves

In Petroc, Tamsyn Kelly leads her audience through her upbringing and emotional development, pulling few punches and delivering some hard class truths about her working-class upbringing and the middle-class world in which she now resides. Leaving her estate to go to drama school, much of the humour in this hour stems from her well-established no-nonsense persona butting heads with more sensitive people. It is the emergence of a strong comic voice and though some may find her confident stage presence intimidating, she has the jokes to back it up.

Striking a careful line between affable and confrontational, it takes a little time for the hour to find its footing. Perhaps due to the quiet audience in this performance, the opening interaction requires a little more prodding than usual and Kelly initially struggles to coax material out of the unwilling crowd. However, once she moves into a more straightforward anecdotal style, Kelly finds a voice that seems made for TV. Strong punchlines, a clear comic voice and a distinct everyman quality to her style allows her to create a confident and relatable hour of stand-up out of tales from her upbringing.

A couple of more dramatic elements are effective but need tweaking to create a tighter narrative arc. The sentiment with which they are delivered is clearly sincere, but cuts the energy from the room which needs delicately bringing back. These moments of sincerity are necessary in providing a truthfulness to Kelly's comic voice though, allowing her to easily stand out from the pack.

Despite these uncomfortable moments, Petroc is an hour of truthful, warm and witty anecdotes from a likeable yet down-to-earth performer who deserves a larger crowd. While the rougher edges of her on-stage persona may not be for everyone, it's hard to deny the strength of her material.

Tamsyn Kelly: PetrocJust the Tonic @ The Caves (Just Up the Road), until 25 Aug, 8pm, £5/PWYW