Sarah Kendall/Natalie Haynes, Norden Farm Arts Centre, Maidenhead

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The Independent Culture

You couldn't hope to see two so different female comedians on the same bill as Sarah Kendall and Natalie Haynes.

You couldn't hope to see two so different female comedians on the same bill as Sarah Kendall and Natalie Haynes. Haynes is a dark, edgy motormouth; Kendall, a tall, confident redhead. Haynes's delivery is breathless and neurotic; Kendall is laid-back and laconic by comparison. What they have in common, apart from Perrier nominations, is plenty of charm; as a man at the theatre bar puts it: "They're two funny birds."

Haynes's charm lies in watching her mind go into overdrive as it powers through (at times tenuous) links and quixotic material. For example, there's a real need to race through a section about Marilyn vos Savant, the US logic agony-aunt (immortalised in Mark Haddon's best-selling book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time), to get to a better section on the Bible Code, still deserving of ridicule for its "word search" qualities ("It could relate to JFK, or it could be an incident involving a Jaffa Cake," Haynes points out).

Similarly, the retelling of a Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee Hammer horror film to explain Rod Hull's fatal downfall is a lengthy aside, but then we are suddenly back on track with a routine about how a food allergy forced her to give up "bread, pasta and joy" and a treatise on the peaceful virtues of toast. Suitable impish charm was displayed when she argued that the Smurfs are a Ku-Klux-Klan allegory, a theory aided by flashcards of Papa Smurf with his red hat, putting him under suspicion as the Klan Dragon rather than the elder of the village. Like the Smurfs themselves, there's no doubt that Haynes is an acquired taste - but one with a quick mind.

Kendall is upbeat and takes the second half of the show head on, trying to turn "Good evening, Maidenhead" into a rock'n'roll call to arms. Almost immediately, she has to deal with a few boisterous hecklers whose tongues have been loosened by their interval refreshments. Their intervention is irritating at times, but Kendall never loses patience and weaves them into her act, rechristening the group - male and female - so that they all became known as Sarah. With her collective held captive, Kendall continues with material that is more meat-and-veg observational than Haynes's quirkfest; the shame of catching someone's eye while eating a banana, or of forgetting names when introduced to people. Many of these observations are nicely contained within a hen-party scenario.

Elsewhere, she tells a number of other well-crafted stories, including how, after she has been short-changed by a shop assistant who refuses to own up to the error, she plots her revenge fantasy while walking away from the shop, thus causing her further embarrassment when she realises she has been doing so out loud. Far from rambling herself, Kendall is engaging and energetic and flexible enough to explore without fear of losing her thread.

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