Effective and original comedy either makes you look at the familiar with a totally new perspective or takes your head somewhere you never even knew existed, Tim Key does both brilliantly with his one-man show MasterSlut. To describe the performance as ‘stand-up’ would be to do it a disservice because the show is crammed full of ideas; film clips, audience interaction and even poetry to create something utterly original and most importantly very very funny.
As the audience wander into the Arnolfini performance space Tim Key is stood next to a full bathtub and eyes everyone suspiciously as they pass him on the way to their seats. As the show starts it all appears slightly ramshackle but it quickly becomes clear that every apparently throw-away line has been carefully crafted and the seemingly random elements are expertly pulled together at the end of the performance. There is no one unifying theme holding the show together but you find yourself completely drawn into Key’s surreal world and everything - kind of - makes sense in the end.
The white bath tub is a brooding presence on the stage all night and Tim Key initially makes little use of the ‘elephant in the room’. As the show progresses the bath becomes more and more integral to the performance. There are ingenious sequences as Key dips his head beneath the surface and on the video screen we see his face submerged and we observe the strange secret world within the bathtub.
The audience interaction feels both natural but also expertly controlled; particularly memorable is the poor guy in the front row who has the honour of being Key’s personal dryer for the evening; “They don’t just leave it dangling over Federer do they?” he chides when the man is too slow taking up his drying duties.
The timing and pacing of the show is expertly done. Initially wondering what I have let myself in for as Key seems to jump from one random thought to the next, but before I realise I am laughing hard and find myself utterly at ease with Key’s unique worldview.
MasterSlut is a show that is almost impossible to sum up neatly; it’s not stand-up, performance poetry, multi-media experimentation or even just a man talking about his love of baths. It is a show that transcends all these easy classifications and is quite simply just a brilliantly inventive and sublimely funny hour’s worth of entertainment.