Monday, January 30, 2012

Bon Voyage Daniel Kitson

This day had to come and I am coping...fine.  Because I am a grown-up (even if I use emoticons and sometimes fangirl out a bit on the page).  I've been a little excited about this show and it's creator on this blog but I feel like if there is something I'm going to go overboard about it should be something this good.   And no one has yet to tell me I am wrong (I mean about the show being effing great--people tell me all the time how wrong I am about everything else so don't you worry about that).

It's sad when a show you love closes and I do love this show: It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later.  But oddly enough I can say goodbye to it more happy than sad.  I got to see this show as much as I wanted, got to see some of Kitson's famous stand-up work,* I introduced eleven friends to the show (and they loved it) and I met some wonderful Kitson fans along the way.  In the end, I received so much more than I could have expected. 


For some reason the show in New York involved more breaking the fourth wall, asides to the audience and delirious Kitson giggles than the show in London.  After multiple viewings, I could stop worrying about keeping up with the rapidly moving story.


I enjoyed luxuriating in the language:** "every erratic undulation," "the ponderous pace of his solitary consumption," "cosseted in the comforting cacophony," "the bullshit bonhomie of everyone getting along really well actually," " his hands covered in something sticky...the smell of nettles thick in the air," "less a slippery act of intimate eroticism, than a semi-submerged nightmare of flailing limbs and frantic apologies."

And the humor:  "These are facts provable by science: teenagers are dickbags, cows have pretty eyes, marshmallows are delicious if not dangerously moreish." "Being on time is dangerously close to being late. It's just one away if you think about it."  "Parks are for children and pedophiles.  You William are clearly not a child."  "That aquatic atrocity aside, it had been a lovely holiday." "I've nailed this being a person thing." " In for a conversationally awkward penny, in for a socially crippling pound."

And as someone who saw the show more times than the average person might, I got a peek at the constantly evolving "text" and performance: an unexpected bobsled/toboggan (Ben Brantley?) joke, a mother's new-found hobby of hat-making, a sudden change in the weekly agenda to include a trip to the haberdasher, messing up a line because he was distracted when his fly started to unzip, giggling and stopping the show when an audience member's laugh made him laugh, stopping the show when it sounded like we were about to be raided by police helicopters, and the semi-occasional return of my favorite phrase "tuck in."  Every performance was slightly different and then the night of "the incident" well it just became something entirely different (the stuff of myth and legend).

And thank god for multiple viewings so I could actually concentrate on different bits that otherwise I would have missed.  There is so much richness to this show that it is easy for thoughtful, subtle pieces of it to slip right by you on only one or two viewings.  It certainly is resonant and meaningful with one pass but the parallels, the character development and the overall themes became more apparent to me after about the third or fourth visit.

And yes often the show makes me sad.  I relate far too much to the cantankerous, misanthropic William (have I given those speeches about babies--because I may have).  I spend much of the show wondering why I am content not to be Caroline (though recently I felt like her when it turns out I bought the same exact eyeglasses that I already have--just MORE purple--apparently I stopped changing my eyeglasses "look" in 2009).  Though slightly jealous of her Benjamin, I will admit.  I guess I find bits of myself all over the show which is one of the points I think.  It is about our roles as children, parents, lovers, friends.  How we change through time.  How some things remain fixed.   How we deal with loss or regrets.  How people in our lives come and go and how we cope with that.  How honesty can bring you closer together or "truncate hitherto promising evenings with staggering alacrity."   


I found it funny when I was talking it over with friends and they made one assumption about William and I made a completely different one (who is right--we'll never know. I'm pretty sure they are right and I am wrong).   Nothing like good theater to make you examine your own assumptions and world view.


The show is not easily forgotten.  It has left me thinking about life in a totally different way.  Being present in moments that I might otherwise have overlooked.  Paying attention to the sights, smells, sounds and sensory overload that is New York or my life.  

Recently, this went very poorly when I realized a certain subway stairwell in Chelsea smells of deep-fried-chicken & urine all blended together--deep-fried urine basically.  But there have been less horrific applications of this thesis.  I recently had to go in for an MRI.  And because of the show I thought this is this moment of my life, this is NOW--and it's taking place entirely in a narrow metal tube with a droning, drilling sound rattling my teeth, I'm cold and exposed, I'm clutching a panic button to my chest, Hotel California is playing in headphones on my head, I feel awfully trippy and maybe I might just throw up.   Paying attention to everything and nothing got me through the 35 minutes of complete stillness and distracted me from the creepy technician who said I could keep my "panties" on for the MRI procedure. <Shiver>

Daniel Kitson made me pay attention to the moments in my life in a way I would never have otherwise.

Bon voyage sir and we hope you return to these shores again soon.  You'll always be a Mildly Bitter fave you delightful rapscallion. 


*As a wholly irrelevant aside, the multicolored stripey shirt (with lots of orange in it) he wore one night during his stand-up was very sharp and fetching.  And the blue sweater of unrequited love was also a good pick.  He was very funny during his stand-up bits (I laughed until I cried) and clearly that was the main focus of those evenings but I feel like no one ever gives him credit for dressing nicely and well sometimes he does.  So I'm noting it here for posterity. 

**Again, these are my best recollections of the quotes and may not be 100% accurate which makes me feel terrible about myself.  After so many shows you'd think I'd have it memorized.  I really, really don't.  But in my defense I am a visual learner.

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