Theatre Review: Tim Key’s Masterslut at the MAC

By Peter McLoughlin @PeterGownArts

My face hurt.  It felt like my arms do after climbing – spent.  I had laughed too much.  The bulk of Masterslut, by actor/comedian/writer/poet/ virtuoso (/shambles(?)) Tim Key, is traditional(ish) stand-up comedy.  But Key is evidently bold enough to explore the dynamics of the stage, the audience, and the nuances of overlapping art forms in the construction of his show: infused throughout Masterslut are moments of reflection (in a bath); personal interaction (clambering, towelling) and creative collaboration (sharp video/audio accompaniments).

The comedy primarily comes from Key’s schizophrenic stage character – who I’ll refer to as ‘Tim’.  Tim switches from aggressive to charming; from sharp to apparently rambling; from friendly to obtuse about 18 times a minute.  Tim is the obvious example of the extent of the ‘show’ in Masterslut.  While all comedians act, to an extent (the majority of it is rehearsed after all), Key’s character is truly frenetic.  Masterslut is no mere comedy-routine – it is a dramatic comic performance.

How Tim interacted with the audience too was quite brilliant.  As the show opened, Tim appeared at the back of the theatre, and a map of the auditorium’s seating plan was projected on stage.  The seating plan had a ‘route’ drawn through the middle of it, and Key duly clambered over the audience, kissing some, frisking others, making his way to the stage.

He played an almost brilliant game of ‘one-word-at-a-time’ – I say almost because the audience were a bit oblivious in their participation (Tim: ‘give me a word that starts a story?’ – Audience member: ‘…hello?

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