Theatre

Review: Sarah Millican – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

Popular comedian and self-confessed ‘cat mam’, Sarah Millican brought her wickedly funny new stand-up show to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. The 41-year-old from South Shields is currently in the middle of a huge UK tour, which may well be her best yet.

Since winning the Best Newcomer Award for her debut show at Edinburgh Fringe in 2008, Millican has fronted her own television chat show, appeared on numerous comedy shows and completed three sell-out national tours (Outsider is her fourth).

For the first of two consecutive nights in Birmingham, Millican comes on first to introduce her support act Tom Allen, which is unusual but a lovely touch. A sharp-tongued raconteur, Allen does a great job of warming up the Midlands audience.

Millican herself is as charming as she is crude. With her gentle delivery style and domestic-themed comedy, she’s like a potty-mouthed friend who likes to over-share.

Her anecdotes of cohabiting and cats are hilariously well-observed and dramatic constructs of the perils of IBS, dog poo bags and bath bombs are luridly truthful. (“When I have a bath, it just has to be me and the water… anything else just makes downstairs RAW.”)

Having recently settled in the countryside, she’s learnt that robins don’t just appear at Christmas and that rabbits can’t swim but is still unable to tell the difference between an owl hoot and her husband’s asthma.

Millican invites the audience to share ‘the best thing you’ve seen in nature’. Since we’re all friends here and over-sharing clearly isn’t an issue, experiences of wild boars, whales and duck sex are shouted out. The audience participation flatters here slightly, as voices without microphones don’t carry very well in the large venue.

In the second half, she changes gear slightly, sharing her real experiences of body confidence issues, self-esteem and bullying, including a brilliant tale of revenge on a particular acquaintance who had made her school life miserable.

While the anatomical references are graphic and the poo jokes plentiful, there is also an uplifting theme throughout of not giving a damn what others think and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That’s the genius thing about Millican, she’s warm, witty and totally relatable. She picks up on the everyday insecurities and quirks we all have and isn’t afraid to share them with eye-popping honesty in a room of 2000 people.

Clare White

Sarah Millican returns to the Symphony Hall on 29 August.
Image: Contributed

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