Review: Sally’s Alright, Etcetera Theatre

Sarah Tattersall has written and produced a strong debut show in Sally’s Alright. It’s an engaging mix of a show, in which Tattersall plays a 20-something ‘washed-up woman’, now cleaning a comedy club by night. But, as she keeps telling us, she’s FINE. Really, she’s fine. At night the empty stage beckons – in fact begs her – to perform, and so she starts telling the story of her life so far; all the things she ended up doing, and all the men she met, while trying to make it to the top.

It’s a highly comedic, imaginitave story with some memorable comic moments that had almost the whole audience laughing loudly. Tattersall has invented a character that is egomaniacal, delusional, and selfish but also strangely likeable. Her continual misreading of the situations she has been in – working as an escort is, to her, being paid to make appearances at important events – does not tire and the comedy of this persona is mostly well sustained. The tone at the opening was very light, and overall I was impressed with Tattersall’s physical comedy. A darker turn of events comes when Sally recognises how low she has sunk in her pursuit of fame, and acknowledges her continual submission to men in power. It is a timely moment to reflect on the unhealthy societal obsession with personalities and publicity. Yet, towards the end of the script Sally’s description of post-natal depression feels too dark for the rest of the material, and too hastily passed over. With such serious material, I felt Tattersall needed to tread more carefully and think about how this might have changed the character herself.

A particular highlight were Sally’s interactions with the stage, and with the attraction of performing. The stage lights flash to tease Sally up to the microphone, and drums are ready at the end of her every line. She slides into cabaret numbers and plays the part of a wannabe performer with great success, and I felt the end would have been stronger if it were more theatrically comical in this way, partly because it gives Tattersall the chance to perform a wider variety of the comic voices she possesses.

An intimate, one woman show like this one depends greatly on the manner of the performer, and what could have been an awkwardly intimate show in a tiny theatre, replete with impromptu cabaret singing, wasn’t at all. It’s a really nice thing to see a spot like this taken up by such a young female comedy performer, and this differentiates it from other shows found in pub theatres in London at the moment. Though the show might not be perfect quite yet, I have no doubt Tattersall herself will get better and better.

Sally’s Alright played at the Etcetera Theatre as part of The Camden Fringe until August 21. The Camden Fringe runs until August 28.