REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Tim Key - Single White Slut, The Duchess Theatre

“Look at you, morons… it’s not a criticism” Key rolls his eyes, exhales with disappointment “total fucking idiots”. “Not a criticism” he’s keen to stress, though we’re not sure we believe him.

Key’s amazed, and seemingly gobsmacked, we braved the strikes to be part of this poetry “thing”. He might have us brow beaten but even just a few minutes in I’m feeling pretty chuffed that I did. Key’s latest incarnation of the ‘Slut’ brand is darker, creepier and unquestionabbly more aggressive. Key’s previously presented a calm, nervous, persona brimming with a sly arrogance, but Radio 4 Key’s gone for now and before us stands his evil twin with a bristlier chin and wilier smile.

Every night we go to bed, we wake up, get on with our day then hit the hay like clockwork. It’s an everlasting routine, all but for the rare night out, we’ve all grown accustomed to. Key’s definitely not convinced. Bedtime? “Why don’t I like bedtime?” Key asks himself… “Bedtime’s fucking gash, mate”.  For a man so apoplectic to the idea of forty winks, Single White Slut, he explains is “all about beds”. The stage is stark and bare, apart from a knee height filing cabinet and an old single bed, this, Key assures us, is his. It’s seen many things and Key promises us it’s “riddled with his own DNA”. Thanks to a scatter of cider cans and playing cards we’re confronted by bleakness akin to Emin’s bed, with the edition of Key’s slimy candour, of course.

Single White Slut is a long, enjoyably meandering and excellently cringing affair. You’ll certainly be laughing but likely from behind your clasped hands as you cower from the awkwardness. There’s a loose framework, it seems but Key’s not afraid of the audience and invites them to join him on stage. His ad-libbing is finely tuned and fantastically spontaneous, he reels you in then with polite patter, but as one wise-cracking audience member found out, his sharp and scorching putdowns drag you back with a thud and shatter.

After stories featuring cameos from Gandhi, Anne Hathaway, Owls and potential-conquests gone by, all largely on the comfort of his very own bed, Key breaks character for a brief bit of housekeeping…. “don’t take the cards” he asks, begrudgingly. Despite his seemingly hapless abandon of the pornographic playing cards now littering the stage, it’s all painstakingly crafted, and “it’s not how I want to be remembered by” Key sighs. Trust me, that’s not what he’ll be remembered by. Key’s proved once again that he has an innovative and boundlessly original talent for making you feel incredibly uncomfortable. Single White Slut is enjoyably meandering, fantastically spontaneous and darkly silly, you’ll feel ashamed for laughing, but you won’t be the only one that is.

Buy tickets for Tim Key @ The Duchess Theatre here.