Katharine Ferns is in Stitches begins as a fairly standard stand-up set; the Canadian comic mocks the venue and low-budget nature of the affair. She is sarcastic and her timing works. However, after the introductory one-liners and quick quips, In Stitches takes on an over-arching narrative and the remainder of the piece pulls us into the story.

We are given the heads-up from the off that things are going to “get dark” and Ferns delivers on this warning. She bravely recounts a violent relationship and its consequences, including multiple surgeries, chronic pain and subsequent drug habits. She also provides us with statistics as well as anecdotal evidence to shine a light on the horrifying realities of domestic violence and the issues surrounding it. For some, the humour might cut too close to the bone, but throughout, she reminds us that if she’s laughing at herself then we can join her; it’s her history and she’s reclaiming it.

The set is well-rehearsed, fluent and the punchlines work, although perhaps they’re not outstanding. The structure of the show as a whole is tight and Ferns entertains us, but it may struggle to surpass other Fringe comedy that is more innovative or experimental. The comedian is skilled in the art of storytelling, though, and must be commended for her honesty and guts.

While we might not quite be in stitches by the end of the performance, neither do we leave feeling short-changed by one of the better free Fringe shows out there. Ferns pulls it off with passion and wit and opens up an important topic for thought.