Live Review: Tim Key, Megadate, Theatre Royal, Brighton Festival

Tim Key – prize-winning comedian, poet, of Mid Morning Matters with Steve Coogan and Detectorists with Mackenzie Crook. If you didn’t know this about the man before Megadate, you will do the end of this part theatre, part stand up, part storytelling show, as he neatly folds in true aspects of his own life to make up his flawed romantic protagonist.

It’s Key, suited and booted with a smart haircut prowling the stage watching the audience as they enter the theatre, smiling and sipping his pint of cordial – juxtaposing with himself five minutes later, opening a can of Kronenbourg into his armpit, spraying himself and part of the front row with beer. The smart, romantic, slightly pretentious illusion, comically and firmly dented by his own impulses is a pattern repeated throughout Megadate, to enjoyable effect. 

The show starts as the story of an awesome first date in London. Celebrating his city with its many options like a kid in a sweet shop, greedily guzzling all of his favourites at once for this precious first impression, Key starts at Madame Tussaud’s, and goes into a montage of the great and the good around his beloved city and streets. They part ways, with a promise of a text from her, this brilliant First Date. Providing the premise for the majority of the rest of the show: retracing his steps for a lost bank card, awaiting a message. 

It’s fun, it’s dramatic, interspersed with short black and white films depicting Key as a somewhat trying European-style romantic figure. The entirety of the show is soundtracked with music carefully setting the moods ranging from classical to piano bar, with a dash of harpsichord thrown in too. There’s a couple of costume changes – ever the romantic dynamo. He even incorporates the architecture of the old Theatre Royal Brighton in his staging, popping up in their theatre boxes under a spotlight, demolishing the fourth wall utterly and with more than a little mischief. 

Mischief is key to Key, he delights in the absurd as he hypothesises in verse turning into a tree – as warned by older relatives, and is served his beer in true Mariah Carey diva style by an audience member. The poems and tangents adorn his story like rhinestones on the gaudy piece of jewellery of his story, working in their opulence due to the skill and experience of the designer. Key is the architect of all this, right down to the minutest details, resulting in an eccentric romantic’s tale that takes you off the chocolates and roses path and onto something a lot more interesting and unique. 

The Brighton Festival runs until May 27. Details here. Tim Key is touring. 

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