Review: Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse

An assured debut about gender norms

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 11 Aug 2018
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Sarah Keyworth

Sarah Keyworth’s opener is the question, 'do we like unisex public toilets?' – which does rather grab one’s attention. Not to worry: Dark Horse, her debut hour, is neither lavatorial nor potty-mouthed; the question is to find our level as she delves into the hot issue of gender and how children are shoehorned into assigned roles, however ill-fitting they are.

Keyworth should know. She’s female not feminine, she says, and was bullied at school for being a tomboy. Now she’s comfortable where’s she at: happy with her girlfriend, happy that their “bits are the same – it’s like having the same mobile phone”. She’s happy, too, in her daytime job, as nanny to two posh kids with names more generally given to dogs. One’s a boy, the other a girl. Already at a tender age they are being pushed into gender norms of girls do this, boys do that, and the girl is noticeably becoming less confident, less sure that she rocks her world.

There are lots of laughs, but when Keyworth starts digging down into her charges’ lives the show changes gear. As she strives to make political points from personal experience, the pace slackens and it’s increasingly difficult to believe the anecdotes are entirely authentic. Would a young child really say that, or have that degree of insight? But her broader point—that girls are still discouraged to be themselves—is well made, and Keyworth has a nice callback to finish an assured hour.