Thursday, September 1, 2011

Daniel Kitson Can Have My Babies

I should be clear. I don't want any babies.  Ever. 

But if there was a person who might convince me otherwise it is British comedian-storyteller Daniel Kitson.  Is this because he is the most gorgeous, charming man on the planet?  No.  It is because he can weave a story so compelling, convincing, heart-breaking and beautiful I just want to give birth to his babies so his greatness can be passed along to future generations.  I mean haven't you ever just wanted to be so close to someone because of their immense talent and immeasurable Eminem. 

Ok.  This has gotten a little weird.  Are you uncomfortable?  Shall I dial this back a moment.  I think I should explain before someone takes a restraining order out on me.

Last winter I got a postcard from St. Ann's Warehouse.  I remember it distinctly--it had a lightbulb on it.  It announced a show by Daniel Kitson called The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church.  I had seen a few shows at St. Ann's Warehouse but I did not religiously follow their programming.  I don't know what about the postcard made me buy a ticket.  Maybe it was reference to the Edinburgh fringe as Kitson was a well-known performer from the fringe.  I went to the Edinburgh fringe once and saw great shows (Jerry Springer The Opera at the fringe!).  Maybe it was merely the idea that this might be a funny yet depressing show about suicide.  "Sign me up," I though, "It's January, it's fuck-off cold, I love the depressing."  So I wandered into the bleak and cold.  It is always as cold as Antarctica when I go to St. Ann's Warehouse.  Also it is usually blowing a gale.  I try to convince myself that I am some sort of 19th century mariner going to work to take my mind off the epic walk from the train to its doors (Does that make me weird? Don't answer that).  Freezing.  I arrive.  I take my seat awkwardly in the front row.  The seats were set up I think on all 4 sides and all the staging was a stool and a glass of water. Frankly I remember nothing except Kitson himself.

Quietly and efficiently Daniel Kitson walked out from "backstage."  He looked in his 30's, scruffy beard, glasses, ill-fitted jeans.  And he started talking and we were laughing.  He speaks at lightening speed.  He has a stutter and a delicious Yorkshire accent.  I was on the edge of my seat.  I was completely in the palm of his hand.  He announced from the beginning that this was largely a work of fiction but it felt anything but false.  It was human and real. You know when you see a work of art, painting, play, movie, whatever, and it just skewers your soul...I mean you literally feel you have been stabbed deeper than your heart with ache and wanting.  Yeah there.  That's what it felt like...but in a good way.

The show, in an insufficient nutshell, is about Kitson discovering a treasure trove of letters in an attic written by Gregory Church which he obsessively organizes and reads and what unfolds is Kitson's discovery of another man's suicide that is interrupted by his life.

Without special effects, highwires, stagecraft or anything, it was a story and a voice that pulls you in and seems to promise to reveal everything.  It is merely words and a voice and it is all the theater you need.  Quietly and delicately, it feels as if the secrets of the universe, human nature, life and death will be given to you if you sit their patiently.  The story he told was rich with specific details such that you could smell the attic he was visiting, feel the touch of the noose, and taste the milk in the delivery bottle.  The voices of the various characters were distinct.  Truly it was a show that delivered the extraordinary wrapped in the ordinary.  It was over in 90 minutes (no break) and I was dying for more.

Like leaving a play you want to read and re-read, I just wanted so much to hold the story in my hands so I could relive it over and over again.  I wanted to wait in my seat for the next performance.  Of course, the run was sold out and I could not get another ticket at that point.  Here is the New York Times review.

There is very little press on Kitson.  He apparently shuns it.  He's not interested in becoming a worldwide phenomenon.  He does shows early in the morning in the hopes he weeds out d-bags who just want to be cool and get his proper audience. 

I saw he was doing a show at the National Theatre in London in October called It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later.  I bought tickets to two shows and then a plane ticket...planning a whole theater trip around this show basically.  It sold out before tickets went on sale to the public.  (He's since added shows in December which also sold out immediately and caused the ticketing system to crash).  And then it was announced he's coming BACK to St. Ann's Warehouse in January 2012 to do the same show.  So I bought tickets to two more shows there.  So if you are keeping track I am seeing the same show 4 times in two different continents and I have no idea what it is about.  He uses a Calvin & Hobbes quote in the ad.  So it must be amazing, right?  I guess I understand how one could fall under the spell of a cult leader now.  Hmmm.  Yeah.  Well.  I don't care.   

You should get on his mailing list.  Because his emails will make you laugh and he'll give you the heads up on tickets on sale. And if you are like me, you'll treasure every little scrap of his voice even if in email form.  I'm already depressed that I only have tickets to 4 shows and at some point in January 2012 it will all be over.

Is this unhealthy? Hells yeah.  Doesn't make it any less true.  So Daniel Kitson, if you see someone sobbing uncontrollably at your shows in London and New York in the front row and she looks like me, yeah I'll have yer babies.

1 comment:

  1. It's not just me.