With so many high-concept, award-baiting, ambitious-to-the-point-of-hubris standup shows cluttering the Fringe programme each year, it’s refreshing to see a perfectly competent, likeable comic aiming for not much more than to play around with the crowd in the room, tell some interesting and funny stories and send us home with a smile on our faces. Sarah Bennetto does all this with aplomb in her Free Fringe show. It may disappoint punters attracted in by her blurb and its promises of ‘character comedy’ and ‘a truly epic finale’ (presumably these are descriptions of a previous, and very different show), but will keep anyone with a funny bone and a willingness to get involved happy and giggly throughout.
Getting involved is pretty essential, in fact, as Bennetto is obsessed with games: we are in the company of a woman who owns eight Scrabble sets. Much of the first 15 minutes is dedicated to setting up some audience participation games that run throughout the set, from the familiar 'Wink Murder' to the less well-known 'Get Down, Mister President!' Bennetto is so warm, flirtatious and personable that no one in the room is shy to get involved, and much of the joy of this set is the atmosphere she creates amongst the audience: we are participants rather than spectators.
The material itself is mostly witty, rather than hilarious: there are tales of Bennetto’s surreal experience of “immersive theatre”, odd characters she’s met at folk festivals, and a rather wicked “social experiment” that she likes to conduct on buses. The show positively glows with her playful personality throughout, and it would be a niggardly punter indeed who resents spending an hour and a small donation for the benefit of her company.