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Sarah Cameron-West - Karen Interview

The outrageously hilarious show KAREN will be embracing London as it heads for The Old Stock Joint in Birmingham and The Other Palace, following its hit run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Centred around a storm of heartbreak, this uproarious show tackles the internal turmoil of our Protagonist as she journeys through a chaos-filled office narrative and reaches a cathartic finale. Shattering the fourth wall, this critically acclaimed hit follows the Protagonist as an unceremonious birthday break-up sees her ex dating her office nemesis: Karen.

This bold one-woman production is brought to life by
Sarah Cameron-West (Anansi Boys, Amazon Prime; Walk Home, Josie Copeland), fuelled by pent up rage, awkward encounters, and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Set on breaking the polite silence as well as the barriers between performer and audience, KAREN invites you upon a fast-paced rollercoaster of emotions as it explores workplace politics, relationships, and unexpected identity crisis.

Unable to silently hold onto the unchecked and repressed outrage that comes with betrayal, loss, and an office romance that breaks the camel’s back, KAREN sees chaos ensue as the female Peep Show (The Nerd Party) unleashes its feminine rage in an unashamed show of rebellion. KAREN uncovers the empowerment of owning the emotions that allow you to find peace, whilst also presenting a side-splittingly funny performance. Directed by Evie Ayres-Townshend (Fox, Drops and Panda Pops, Omnibus Theatre; Contact, Golden Goose Theatre), Fleabag meets The Office in this must-see one-woman production.

Ahead of the run we caught up with Sarah Cameron-West to discuss the show further. 

What inspired you to write the show?
I originally wrote KAREN as a 10-minute monologue for a competition hosted by Velvet Smoke Productions for their show Project Passion in 2021. It started as a little sketch that I wrote on my notes app and sent it off not really thinking anything of it. I was thrilled that it was selected for their final showcase and it meant that I got to perform my piece for a limited run at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. After a lovely reception there, I knew I wanted to turn the monologue into a full show and start building on the themes that I had hinted at in the sketch such as supressing your emotions and finding your voice. I think my biggest inspiration for finishing KAREN was I just wanted to get my work out there and see how it went. Also, as a performer, it meant that I could act in my own work on my own timeline and not have to keep waiting for a phone call that would give me opportunities, instead I could get out there and make my own. 
What was the biggest challenge you faced whilst developing the show? 
Honestly, time. I decided to throw myself into the Edinburgh Fringe 2023 very last minute as the push I needed to finish KAREN. It had been sat on the backburner in 2022 and I wanted to get on and make itso I knew I needed to give myself a deadline. I was extremely lucky that Greenside Venues offered me an incredible slot at 7:30pm at Riddles Court just off the Royal Mile and I only got such a slot because someone dropped out as usually the deadline for these things is end of FebruaryI had confirmed Edinburgh at the end of April and booked my previews for the beginning of July all before I had written a single word of the show. Daring? Maybe. Foolish? Definitely. So I had May to write the show and June to rehearse it with my wonderful director Evie Ayres-Townshend, without whom it would never have come together as her imaginative and intelligent creative facilitation ensured that we could have a final product ready to debut at Edinburgh. 

Photo by Dylan Woodley

How much of yourself did you put into the show and the writing?
The situation in KAREN is unique. I have not been dumped at Alton Towers on my 30th birthday by my long term boyfriend who it turns out is having an affair with my arch nemesis. Equally, I have never worked in recruitment or any typical office job. Like most actors, it has always been a plethora of whatever flexible job is available that will pay the bills whilst giving me the freedom to take opportunities if they arise. However, I have had heartbreakI have been in awkward romantic situations, and I have struggled to use my voice in speaking up for myself. These are all the big themes in KAREN and things that people find relatable, so even though the scenario is fictitious, the feelings behind it are very real and can therefore allow people to connect with the story easily. In terms of the tone of the writing however, it is absolutely how I talk so it is always quite fun having friends and family watch the show as they feel like we are having a chat. 
How do you reflect on the journey with the show so far ahead of bringing it to The Other Palace Studio in March?
I am always surprised with how quickly these things come around and even now in January I feel like we are cutting it fine in terms of preparation! We are really levelling up the show in terms of lighting, sound and set design thanks to our new additions to the creative team: Oliver McNally (lighting designer), Sarah Spenser (sound designer) and Roisin Jenner (set designer). It is a real privileged to be around such talented people willing to work on KAREN to make it the best it can be. I feel very lucky and am very excited to see what we create in the next few months to create something really special for The Other Palace. We are rehearsing all of January, having a two night run at The Old Join Stock in Birmingham 15 & 16th February to trial out the new material, and then using the remaining time to tweak and tidy up ahead of the run at The Other Palace 19-24th March. 
What’s the best piece of life advice you’d give for someone?
Tell them how you feel. 
What keeps you inspired as a creative?
I find inspiration every day for a whole host of things. My notes app is awash with play ideas, TV series, short films all desperate to explode into life. Listening to a new album, going on a walk, seeing a film sparks that creative energy and I have to write it down. It is then about filtering it and seeing what I think could become a full project and creating a timeline to make it a reality that is the challenge but one I wake up excited to do every day. 
What do you hope an audience member takes away from seeing KAREN?
I am always surprised to hear what people take away from KAREN and it was so interesting to read the audience feedback from the Fringe that they posted on the page each night. It varied from people just loving the laughter and hilarity of the situation leaving with a smile on their face to girls coming up to me telling me they are dumping their boyfriends because “they deserve better”. The breakup correlation with watching KAREN seems to be high. 

My hope is that an audience will take away the message that the path to healing lies with tackling your emotions head on and the freedom you find when you do that because if you try to doge your feelings and suppress them, they will find other ways to manifest themselves which may not be healthy. Everyone copes as best they can, but in this era of mental health awareness and I would love people to take away that there is power in saying how you feel and owning your emotions rather than being frightened of their unpredictability or the outcome. It is a not a new concept to speak your truth, but one I am a big fan of and trying to get better at.

KAREN runs at The Old Stock Joint in Birmingham on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th February, tickets are available from It then plays at The Other Palace Studio in London from Tuesday 19th until Sunday 24th March 2024. Tickets are available from

Photo by Dylan Woodley

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