Writer: Tamsyn Kelly
Director: Amy Gledhill
People are multifaceted, but can they really change? Tamsyn Kelly isn’t convinced they can. In her new hour, Crying in TK Maxx, she examines that worldview, in part through the lens of her relationship to her long-absent father. She touches on ways she’s navigated the world in comparison to him, from dating the skinniest men available (different) to shoplifting jewelry from Oliver Bonas (similar). A brief summary of the other topics covered reads like a pithy Instagram bio: doesn’t like the taste of cum, once dropped a brick through a windscreen, in lust with Mr Blobby, foundation shade = “corpse”.
Kelly is a dynamic presence and magnetic from the off, but the show gathers momentum gradually as the crowd warms to reflect her energy. She describes the basics of her working-class background and sets the scene on her Cornish council estate. A bit of gentle banter with her audience gives way to pacier and pacier deliveries and she manages the build with aplomb. A well-received quip about escalators in the Big City (Plymouth) coaxes a genuine laugh from the comic herself and the evening’s true strength is unveiled: Tamsyn Kelly is having fun.
She volleys her anecdotes with casual confidence, swinging the microphone cord over her shoulder and sipping on a tinned cocktail from a plastic champagne flute. Her stories span from the mundane, dinner table-appropriate (her reactive dog) to the outrageously specific and silly (cocaine at jury duty). A bit about an unexpected A&E examination is illustrated with a rare moment of physicality in the set and here Kelly’s performer chops are evident. Other sections of the show could be punctuated to similar success, but as-is Kelly is delightful to watch.
The narrative arc strays a few times before the threads are tied back together in the end, helped along by a few well-selected video clips and Twitter screenshots on the television behind her. Her father perhaps doesn’t change, but Kelly has grown from her days on the estate, shoplifted earrings aside.
The hour flies by and, in case the audience wasn’t already on her side, at the close a blow-up Mr Blobby waddles through the stage door, to echoing whoops and laughter. “Take a photo,” Kelly mouths before dissolving into laughter when Blobby tackles her in a hug. Her show too leaps across its finale, buoyant in more ways than one.
Runs until 27 August (not 14th) 2023 | Image: Contributed