2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival:
• Sarah Jones in Does Not Play Well With Others

Posted on 25 September 2011

Australia has been very lucky in the high quality ventriloquists we have seen pass through our festivals and television shows; people such as American David Strassman, British Nina Conti, and our very own Lindi Jane. Sarah Jones is definitely aiming to be part of this company with her show Does Not Play Well With Others.

The evening begins with her strongest puppet character: Kitty. Kitty, as the name suggests, is a cat puppet. She’s appealing to look at, she also has a sweet disgruntled personality. The rapport between Sarah and Kitty was natural and entertaining. The jokes flowed easily from the comic situation: Kitty had been a neglected toy.

After Kitty, Sarah moves onto demonstrations of vocal virtuosity, magic tricks, and comic gimmicks. One of my favourite moments was when she began turning pieces of laundry into unusual costumes and puppets based on Star Wars.

Much of this was standard ventriloquist fare, and a lovely bit of fun. Sarah also seemed to be stretching for more. I would like to encourage her to keep following this path.

Woven through the show was Sarah’s story about being a strange child and how it lead to her current career. She punctuated sections of her show with the sniping of mean girls from her childhood. After awhile I found the sniping distracting rather than adding to her performance arc. However, I think Sarah’s instinct was right. Her show could go from good to great with more storytelling.

I hate saying this, her puppets’s stories are always going to be more interesting than her own. It’s just the nature of humanity to be drawn into the magic of puppetry. The story that should have been followed was that of Kitty. Kitty’s plight was fun, funny, and affecting. She had a well-developed personality and back-story. I wanted more.

Sarah Jones is whimsy for adults. If you want to see something that will brighten your day, see Does Not Play Well with Others.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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