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Sarah Callaghan: a fireball of pissed-off poetry

Christian Butler

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After a number of collaborative efforts over the past couple of years at the Fringe, London comedienne Sarah Callaghan makes her prodigious solo debut with Don’t Tell Anyone About Sarah Callaghan.

Sceptics wary of the show’s gimmicky title are set at ease by Callaghan’s opening gambit: a damning self-criticism of the show’s title and its poster (an oversaturated portrait in red à la Ed Sheeran’s +). Callaghan quickly moves on to other comedians she deems to have the absolute worst posters at the Fringe.

The reflexive opening defines this fiery young comedienne’s targets – everyone. Not content with picking on members of the audience, she slags off fellow comedians, from Stewart Lee to her own boyfriend, but saves the most explosive denigration for herself.

As suggested by its title, the show is built around secrets: the result is a fast-talking, no-holds-barred confessional including gloriously graphic remembrance of the night that made her quit drugs and a surreal yet strangely sincere interlude where she insists she’s been entered by the spirit of Michael Jackson.

Speaking in a highly charged, mile-a-minute fireball of pissed-off poetry, Callaghan’s persona is a charismatic mix of bitter ironies and youthful naïveté. She trusts the audience to keep up with her rapid delivery and they respond with nonstop laughter.

The quality of this stand-up show is making Sarah Callaghan’s talent one of the worst kept secrets in Edinburgh.

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

Don’t Tell Anyone About Sarah Callaghan is at Laughing Horse at Finnegan’s Wake until 23 August.

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