Arts Review: Kim Noble – You’re Not Alone

Kim Noble

In the run up to Valentine’s Day singletons (or ordinary people as we like to think of ourselves) were invited to reflect on their shame. As a recent BBC article pointed out; a piece that had the temerity to ask why smug bastards who’d chosen to have their identity subsumed into that of their dominant genital dock dared to criticise the still independent of thought and action; our culture’s coercive on such matters, which is a polite way of saying it’s a sneering bully.

Intimacy between humans takes many forms, close relations many more, but coupledom’s the only standard vouchsafed by your family, peers and, God help you if this applies, church. It’s a kind of tyranny that makes otherwise healthy individuals piss-miserable. Relationships, more often than not, are theatres of control, disappointment, boredom and soul corroding self-compromise, but you wouldn’t know it from all the talk of love and fulfillment that’s poured into you like a society sponsored waterboarding session.

All of which urgently scratches behind the eyes, nigh on tormenting you, during Kim Noble’s latest show, a treatise on loneliness and the horrific games we’re prepared to play to quell it. Noble’s conflation of comedy and performance art collapses the barrier between biography and situationism. His life is the show and the show is his life. During an hour in which your deepest anxieties and self-loathing are reflected back at you, a sombre Noble relentlessly polishing the mirror, you’re invited to observe one man’s wry attempts at reaching out to fellow disgusting humans; perverse gambits from the contented person’s point of view, which frequently encroach on stalking, stroke turpitude’s balls and beat off degeneracy.

Noble’s subjects, including Keith the Morrison’s employee and Jon, a sexual retard who leaves his mobile number on the door of a service station toilet, arguably have his contempt, but a man without vanity or pride, prepared to perform in front of an audience that’s watched him masturbate on camera and take a dump in a church, isn’t elevating himself. The pathos and terrible beauty in his work comes from a strong sense of authenticity; the idea that the finely crafted long form setups (working in B&Q for a year using a homemade uniform, slow grooming a young buck online with the assumed persona of his ideal wife), come from a place that’s innate and verifiable.

Noble could only perform …Will Die, his 2009 show, because he knew what it meant to be depressed. You’re Not Alone also has a fist up truth, the awful twist, in an evening of shocks, being the discovery that the reassuring title is a fraud – a fragment of a reminder that you are indeed alone, and that the man or woman on your arm, the friend’s wife you’ve been fucking for years, is a transient and perhaps unsustainable attempt at negating that one, basic, fundamental fact.

None of which may sound very funny but Noble finds humour in all the grubby nooks you’ve worked so hard to get a brush to. With great control and lowly understatement, affecting to be oblivious to the scale of his self-inflicted depravity in pursuit of tragedy, he guides you through a series of vignettes, from botched taxidermy to his interrogation by IKEA security staff. You’re either delighted at the audacity, appalled or quietly sympathetic, depending on how life’s currently treating you, but never indifferent.

Noble’s comedy is brave, astute and dissecting. There’s little out there like it because there are few performers prepared to retool the least palatable parts of their lives for public consumption. For those who can relate, in fantasy if not in deed, there’s comfort. You’re not alone, and best of all, there’s a funny side. Of course Kim’s art clads meaning to his sadness, lending it purpose. The question the show neither asks nor answers is, what are the rest of us to do?

Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone is inside the Soho Theatre (with their consent) until March 7th.

Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 16:15  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ‘Sexual retard’ is a bit pejorative don’t you think?! Whatever floats your sexual boat, doesn’t make you a ‘retard’. Agree it’s a cracking show but exploiting people’s fetishes for laughs is a little cruel.

    • Touting for genitalia (because that’s all the person sought is to them) in a service station toilet to get off, is a little base wouldn’t you say? I mean, I’m a practicing coprophile but I always take the time to get to know the individual first. I take an interest in their lives, try to see the whole person.

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