There is something inherently likeable about Tom Allen and it doesn't surprise me to find him greeting his audience pre-show, immaculately dressed bringing a sense of formality to proceedings which singles him out from the majority of his peers. He has a wonderfully elevated tone, and the audacity to confess to his delusions of grandeur shamelessly; that he believes himself to be better than everyone and announced to his classmates he was an emperor! Combine this with his snappy, bitchy wit and you would think Allen would be the the type of guilty pleasure that one finds incredibly funny but really shouldn't. However this devilishly witty, intelligent man about town is entirely loveable, notably fragile and more than willing to ridicule himself just as much as he does the characters wound into his stories.
Allen weaves a tale of the 32 year old singleton, currently living with his parents and tolerating the tendency slightly older, middle class couples have to ‘accept the gays’ by way of guiding them into relationships. One could say his tales of Sunday buffets at his mothers friends house are reminiscent of a male Bridget Jones, keen to couple up but not through the politeness of middle aged matchmaking. The unexpectedly extended stay in Joyce’s downstairs loo is a masterful set piece which descends into the best kind of borderline inappropriate suggestion through a classy PG delivery. Allen credits his audience with the intelligence to find the smut between the lines. I haven't worked out how but the gay stereotype which can often become predictable and ‘expected’ in some acts, is somehow avoided when seeing Tom Allen at work. Perhaps it's through the moments of balancing a classic persona with attempts at the macho. There is a repeated motif in the set where Allen motions to put his foot on a chair in a more forceful ‘butch’ style which he is quick to reinforce as a pose that doesn't suit him. When he later returns to it, the stance becomes even funnier.
The really glowing section of the set comes when Allen references his childhood, especially if you too grew up in the late 80s/early 90s. In particular there is a wonderful hark back to the horrors of gym lessons, where the key word, executed in gloriously snappy syllables, was ‘apparatus’. He goes on to explain the dangers of the gymnasium, with one or two saucy references along the way, singling himself out as the child tap dancing and braiding girl’s hair. It's the sort of material that has audiences nodding in gleeful agreement, and Allen detailed writing gives you the clearest of visual images with which to imagine ‘young Tom’ struggling through early adolescence.
‘Indeed’ is a delightfully funny insight into how a single gay man avoids identifying as the stereotype an older crowd might categorise him into, whilst continuing down the road to contentment as the fashionably suave modern gent we have seen before us tonight.
Tom Allen’s ‘Indeed’ is playing at Pleasance Courtyard until 28th August at 8.15pm