Tim Key: Masterslut, Pleasance Dome

Bard of the bath is making a big splash
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The Independent Culture

After this show you may never look at having a bath in the same way again.

Certainly, I now look at Tim Key with fresh eyes. He's a comic whose career has already been showered with accolades, including the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award, and invitations to work on projects like Steve Coogan's recent online series Alan Partridge's Mid-Morning Matters.

The Queen Dome provides Key with an in-the-round venue that suits his louche, insouciant wanderings down to the ground. And on that ground lies a bath. It's a place for Key to find real respite beyond that which his bottle of bath foam can supply.

"There are only four places I feel truly safe – a bed, a cinema, a bath and a barrel," he says before before picking out an audience member to be his towel monitor, and dry him after periods of immersion. "They don't leave it dangling over Federer, do they?" he says later, rebuking his new towel boy for forgetfulness.

The towelling down comes between bouts of Key's minimal and literally throwaway poems that teeter between glibness and near tenderness: "I wrote to my brother to ask if I could borrow his fleece..." begins one. Another runs: "An ox... an ox... an ox... Why had she bought me an ox?"

In what is probably his most accessible show yet, Key balances his poetry with some lovely languid musings and activities, recruiting, for example, another audience member to pour a can of ale into a champagne flute and hand it to him. This moment is perhaps the key to Key, a paradoxical figure who mixes a penchant for basic pleasures with the air of a present-day, lo-fi Noël Coward.

Key's discipline and skill with timing is beautifully employed, his "pull back and reveal" undertaken as if it were a stretch-out in the bath. "Drive-Thru McDonald's was more expensive than I thought... Once you hired the car..."

Short films show us the other side of Key's bathing adventures, an aqua netherworld reminiscent of that toilet scene from Trainspotting. The poems, films and chat provide a definite rhythm to the show. Unfortunately, it's a rhythm that is derailed somewhat by the protracted ending. A soothing and satisfying soak nonetheless.

To 29 August (0131 556 6550)