Kim Noble Will Die

Kim Noble
Soho Theatre

Publicity photo

Kim Noble has beautiful eyelashes: I'll return to that later.

We are becoming used to comedians filling the O2 for several nights, which seems a strange idea to me unless it is all about sharing a collaborative experience on a massive scale. Here, until 9 January 2010, you can be part of a small audience at the achingly trendy Soho Theatre (Studio 2, upstairs), in a close-up hour as one very likeable man opens his body and soul and lets his inner demons out to play for a short while, assisted by a stage and screen featuring audio/visual effects.

We experience Kim's charting of his battles with acute depression over the past few years, a depression fostered by various disappointments but particularly by those that have betrayed him in love. Anyone who has brushed shoulders with mental illness, personally or vicariously will, I feel, note moments of uncomfortable recognition: anger, frustration, wanting to be alone and yet part of a continuum, are clearly and poignantly articulated.

An overarching theme seems to be time, including his mother's lamentations that most of her son's contemporaries are now married with kids. Noble handles this same time issue by condensing various works of art (films, novels) from hours into seconds, often improving on the original.

Laughter itself is an odd thing. Some moments are genuinely funny, eliciting joyful audience response. At other times, laughter came from that uncomfortable place where we are not sure how to respond, or from sheer embarrassment. It's also an age thing: when two younger men beside me squealed with pleasure, I could sense the underlying sadness being conveyed.

Publicity material warns that this is for over-18s only, and that scenes may shock. I'm over 18, and wasn't shocked but feel I should warn that it is explicit: language, sex, blood and bodily fluids all juggle for attention. But it's no bad thing to be taken out of one's comfort zone occasionally. There is a little bit of audience participation and if that's not your bag, then avoid the front row.

I approached this performance knowing nothing about Kim, or his success at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, and have read no other reviews. Hence, I am unsure and uneasy of the line (if there is one, here) between Art and reality. I left wanting to give Kim a big hug, or at least to have told him he has beautiful eyelashes because, like small venues, it is often the little things in life that can make the biggest impact.

Reviewer: Anita-Marguerite Butler