I caught Daniel Kitson's show at the National Theatre last night called It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later. You know that I planned my whole trip to London to see this show. It did not disappoint.
Kitson came out in a smart outfit (ooo suspenders) picked up his mic and then spent about 5 minutes trying to attach it to himself. It was one of a few improv moments of the evening but a good reminder that Kitson was a stand-up and can find humor in even the smallest things. The set consisted of a chair, a small ladder, a mug and a series of naked light bulbs that hung from the ceiling.
The story consisted of two stories that Kitson wove together: one of William and one of Caroline. It was not a love story he insisted even if there was love in his story (just as he said the Bible was not a book about woodworking). The focus and premise was to spend the evening exploring the moments of these two lives. Each light bulb was a moment in time.
With lightening speed, Kitson launched into the show. His verbal alacrity is incredible. He speaks so quickly that it would be nearly impossible to comprehend every word spoken. I felt afterwards as if I had some sort of mental whiplash. I found myself with a comprehension rate of about 1 in 4 words. But even at that rate, my mind was blown by the humor, pathos and beauty of the work. I think if one managed to comprehend every word he spoke, one would
actually reach nirvana. But none of us are at that
point of enlightenment. We are just not ready.
And let's face it he knows he has us wrapped around his little finger. There were a few moments where be made mistakes and stopped the show to basically tell us he screwed up but that he was fully aware none of us could have even figured that out. It is like watching a mathematician of the highest order tell you he made a mental miscalculation and you're still trying to figure out what algebra is (as an aside I stabbed myself once with a protractor in geometry class which says just about everything about me and math). There is something utterly charming about the self-deprecation and the honesty of even those moments. Like he knows he's a genius but it would be rude to not admit even geniuses make mistakes even if they are undetectable to mere mortals.
The strength of this particular piece is that it feels as if Kitson has the god-like ability to turn on the audio of humanity's inner monologue. He amplifies the thoughts, fears, dreams and musings of the unspoken but most poignant moments of life (and even some of the banal moments). He shines a light (and here quite literally a light bulb) on the unexplored moments of our lives and as an audience member you cannot help but find yourself in these moments.
He would often hold his hands out around a light bulb as if he were a magician conjuring a flame and the story would burst forth from that flame. His language is so potent and rich that he can take the
emptiness in front of him and with words make people, places, colors,
sounds and smells just come to life before your eyes. He can even make the word "dickbag" seem poetic (lest we not forget much of what he says and how he says it is hilarious).
I feel I keep overusing the word genius when I talk about him but how can a stranger make me feel so naked, so stripped of pretense with all my personal thoughts so exposed. Of course, they are not really my personal thoughts...they are his words. But he makes them feel so universal and yet so individual. It's as if he was holding up a mirror and showing me parts of myself I had denied even existed only to see them staring back at me in that mirror. At some point in the show tears began to leak from my eyes. I cannot even tell you when or why.
The worst part of a Daniel Kitson show is that at some point it must end. It is almost really the point of this show. One can hold onto the last words but every life must end. So, Kitson finished his story. The lights went out. He left the stage. No bow. No curtain calls. When it is over, it is over. He cannot give you more than he has given already and it is really more than enough, greedy little bastards.
So in the end, it is just me a sobbing puddle. I regret nothing.
I recommend you buy tickets to the show for St. Ann's Warehouse in January 2012. I'm not sure I am the most neutral observer at this point but I brought a
friend who had never heard of him or seen his work and she too was a sobbing mess at the end as well. She's a stand-up comedian and was thoroughly impressed with him. Of course, what the hell do we know. You just have to see it for yourself.