The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan (3 stars)

The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan

Pent-up fury and searing rage blunted by a few weak gags

This year's Fringe show from Sarah Callaghan is about wanting to be in a gang. She desperately wants to fit in, to feel like she's got a family, to get respect and, if possible, a slot on mainstream telly, please. But watching lots of her jokes fall flat, it seems like she needs to pick a team rather a gang. One part of her tries to be on the chummy, mainstream comedy club team, with her banter about geezer mates in London affectionately pretend-bumming her in front of their annoyed girlfriends, and the other part seems to be searing with rage at a spoken-word night, reciting angry, bleak poems about her young, working-class disillusionment.

Although she's been grafting hard at the comedy coalface for eight years now, Callaghan seems shy to reveal her recent attempts to write poetry, but that's the bit that seems most honest and interesting. She feels invisible because of her lack of posh credentials, but it might be nothing to do with that. Her fame-hungry, over-confident swagger and weak gags don't feel like the things that are going to set her apart, but the undertow of pent-up fury at politicians that couldn't give a monkeys, and her cynical insights after growing up in a broken home might be.

Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake, until 25 Aug (not 19), 7.30pm, donations.

The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan

  • 3 stars

Sarah Callaghan The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan. Award-winning comedian Sarah Callaghan, fresh from hugely successful tours of Australia and New Zealand, returns to Edinburgh with a powerhouse mash-up of comedy and poetry about gangs, fitting right in and feeling left out. Everyone seems to have a gang – her peers…

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