A hair-raising solo debut I’d be Keane to see at any point on my Callander, even around Christmas.
Signing up to watch Ruby Keane’s debut solo hour of comedy, I can’t say I was expecting to watch show where the “weird Earl of Rochester” was mentioned with as much frequency as a marshmallow and a scorpion in a variety of compromising positions.
The title leads you to suspect nothing as to the contents of the show. This is possibly a product of being written a mere two weeks ago, but Keane’s mastery of turns-of-phrase pushed statements over the boundary of merely funny to hilarious. The notion of “flying bingo wings at half-mast” left the audience in a state of contented bemusement.
Seeing her without her customary small Scottish companion, Luisa Callandar, was odd at first but not an issue as the night went on. She filled the space in the Corpus, and she cleverly referenced that she usually performs as part of the double-act ‘Keane and Callander’ in imaginary “banter” with the unseen techie in a clever sketch.
With references from Henry the Eighth to Mean Girls, Keane also proved herself to be Queen of the Call-Back, with a series of running gags. Although it was a very thematically-loose show together, these moments helped to reorient the audience when the material meandered narratively at some points. While the overall pacing of the show was quite good, it could have been snappier at points.
However, spending more time in the surreal world of Keane is rarely a problem. Her signature absurdist style reframes the everyday in off-beat and disconcerting ways Her contestant wrong-footing of audience expectations keeps you on your toes for an engaging ride, such as her paranoia leading her to think of a house as a “giant cage made of pipes”.
The highlight of the show was however, the final twist. As she danced with an audience member in a plainly gimmicky fashion through the long awaited Tudor choral song, Keane reveals she has finally overcome her fear of gimmicks. With this she arrives at the biggest and best gimmick of the production, and after searching for something to throw into the audience which isn’t going to get her in trouble with health and safely, Keane cut off her own hair live-onstage.
Something so audacious can barely be called a gimmick, and was comedic to the nth degree. The sheer unbelievable-ness of what the audience had just seen left them with no option but to laugh, and this surreal act somehow seemed a natural conclusion to the end of this bizarre show. The fusion of something as visceral the hair cutting, and the ethereal nature of the symbolism of the cutting and the shock of watching her do it beggars comparison the slippery spirit of a fish and the spiky body of a pinecone combined into a singular form – just like a Pinefish. Good thing it’s the start of term then I guess.
And with all the proceeds going to the Little Princess Trust who can disagree?