It’s not why she’s called the Inbetweeny Lady, but Sally-Anne Hayward’s set details what happened to her in between last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and this year’s. It’s very heavily dominated by the death of her father, starting with the phone call that saw her make a rushed exit from 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Hayward’s openness is likeable and sympathetic. Her show is enjoyable, but not unmissable.
Hayward’s pitch is very conversational. This would be fine, but the set verges a little too often on plain old chat. Of her trip to Australia, for example, she tells us that she really liked the sun there and the relaxed atmosphere. Her comments on drugs - being stoned ‘is ok, but doesn’t really suit my lifestyle, I’ve got things to do’ - are similarly banal. Material like this definitely could have done with a bit of comedic bite.
The more obvious moments of stand up comedy are much more entertaining. Ironically, Hayward is particularly funny when emphasizing the banality of some of the chats you find on Facebook. She also has some nice shticks about grammar pedantry at inappropriate moments and her hunt for alternative employment. The teasing job applications she reads us are amusingly silly.
Some of the gags - including one about a hands free phone - are too predictable to get laughs. Hayward also has the unusual habit of laughing at her own jokes. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, but is a little awkward if the audience isn’t laughing along with her. Even more unusual for a stand up, though, is the fact that Hayward makes us feel she’s really opening up to her audience. Her recollection of the grieving process after her father’s death feels honest and in no way exploitative.
Hayward is perhaps held back by a slight lack of confidence. Nonetheless, her gentle humour is refreshing and easy to watch. Her set is touching, if not especially witty.