Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Once Was Wonder: A Collection of Reviews

I thought I would aggregate the reviews for Daniel Kitson's show Where Once Was Wonder as they trickle in from around the globe.  I will try to keep this post updated as I stumble upon reviews.


Spoonfed has a five star review celebrating the show's mix of stand-up and storytelling.  Playing in an intimate space at The Stand in Edinburgh Kitson brings the "right balance of self-deprecation and arrogance, and a wonderfully comic use of language."

Ed Fest Magazine has another five star review saying Kitson "does what he does best, telling stories and jokes, some very clever, some very simple."   The reviewer notes that "he tells his stories of love and embarrassment, it's the detail, the minutiae that hits home."

London is Funny gives the show five stars in a  review/essay calling it "outstanding" and suggesting other comedians up their game.  Noting the contradictory shifts in the show, the reviewer calls Kitson a "slippery bugger" and a "fucking good liar." This show keeps the "relationship between Kitson and his enthusiastic fanbase... in perpetual motion." offers some best of the fest recommendations including Where Once Was Wonder where their tipster calls it "genius."

Mildly Bitter says that Kitson has "returned to stand-up comedy with a roaring vengeance."  She calls the show at times "thoughtful and touching" and notes that Kitson's observation skills and contradictory structure provide "humor and truth in each character portrait."  In the end Kitson delivers "life lessons with laughter and heart."

The Telegraph calls the five-star show "ironic and playful, self-deprecating and arrogant."

The always eloquent Exeunt Magazine does a fantastic comparison between Where Once Was Wonder and As of 1.52pm GMT, celebrating the parallels and echoes between Kitson's comedy and theater work.  Reveling in the structural joy that is Kitson's work this reviewer describes Where Once Was Wonder as a storytelling show which demonstrates the "comic edifice is finely wrought and towers high above those of his contemporaries but the strings are always visible, the scaffolding is still in place."


Bristol Times. I have previously discussed this early review here.


Squirrel says you'll "certainly get your money's worth for this show."  The reviewer notes that this show has a different vibe compared to earlier Kitson shows (less self-deprecation, more "awesome") but as always funny.  Kitson offers "Arguments and philosophies that are cynical and heartfelt, logical and completely contradictory."  But the take away from Kitson's work for this reviewer was being left with "a kind of warmth, and a moral that I for one have never experienced from any other artist."

The Au Review says Daniel Kitson's Where Once Was Wonder will "take your breath away."  Perhaps revealing far too much about the contents of this show (I would argue one major spoiler so bear that in mind before reading), the review shares several examples of Kitson's tales of the "impossible becoming inevitable."  From wanking to love, Kitson as usual "manages to completely transfix his audience with his stories, which appear to be a random series of vignettes, but all loose threads are tied at the end."

Chortle says that the Where Once Was Wonder is "a show about identity. About how we are defined by our appearance, our friends, or our deeds."  Focused on three stories "the beard-shaving; his rash decision to declare his unrequited to love to a friend; and the time he found himself cutting the head off a baby pig" the reviewer notes that the show is an "elegantly constructed narrative" and "not too far removed from [Kitson's] more recent theatrical monologues."  The five star review concludes "that this is another beautiful show by a comedian who continues to demonstrate the peaks of emotional complexity of which stand-up is capable – while still ensuring a steady flow of laughs."

The Australian says Kitson's show "veers from the poignant to the profane in a way that is constantly surprising."  The 100+ minute show keeps audiences "spellbound."

The Age oddly gives the show 3.5 stars out of 5 but contains no actual praise saying it is "a strange combination of dick jokes and intellectual arrogance."  The reviewer's twitter handle is @MelbourneBitter which suggests she is a distant relation* of Mildly Bitter.  Clearly the Bitter family reunion will be tense this year.

Mint Custard gives the fan's perspective on Where Once Was Wonder.  Noting the "blistering" opening of Kitson's new show leads to a beautiful conclusion and the show starts with "gentle isolated chuckles slowly snowballing into a roaring Playhouse as pennies dropped about another thrilling act of Kitson chutzpah."

Philip Prentice reviews Where Once Was Wonder as a first time attendee of a Kitson show and explores the reasons for polarized (or polarised for those who fear the "zed") reviews of Kitson.  Calling his work "challenging" but not just limited to appeal to "snobs," Prentice seems to appreciate Kitson's skill and approach describing it as "[a]n interplay of ideas, it mixes a broad range of references, with various forms of comedy all set in complex wordplay."

Jason Nahrung describes Where Once Was Wonder as "a superlative performance" where Kitson shares his "thoughts on the meaning of life" and though an "unreliable narrator" is "[i]ntellectually arrogant, confronting, and very bloody funny."

Eleanor Jackson wrestles with her attraction and revulsion to Kitson's work.  "I am slightly ambivalent about Daniel because – somewhere under there, perhaps not far from the surface is someone capable of something I’m not entirely comfortable with."  A fascinating review as it shows it is not always easy to experience Kitson's comedy.

Melbourne Riff Raff reports that "while the material is good, the delivery is off."  Despite the show ending with Kitson's "expected" and anticipated "bittersweet kick" the reviewer found herself carried by loyalty to Kitson more than anything.


The West Australian reviewed Where Once Was Wonder in Perth and stated that this stand-up show had the same "refreshing, no-brakes-applied, unconventional Kitson stamp" as Kitson's storytelling shows.  Noting the structure of the show was stories of the "impossible" made up of arguments that were "deliberately contradicted with equal force by the next."  Calling the show "invigorating, off-kilter, and always surprising."


Not sure how I missed this one.  For shame.  But the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that Where Once Was Wonder is focused on "Kitson himself" on the subjects of fame, love and being Kitson.  With a mesmerizing flow, Kitson keeps his audience torn between "embracing him" or being confronted by him in his self-righteousness.  With a new found ebullience and profane put-downs, Kitson remains a comedian who "presses our buttons" including the one marked "reset."  "Recommended."

*Mildly Bitter does not actually believe she is related to Melbourne Bitter because all of Mildly Bitter's Australian cousins live in Perth.


  1. I saw Daniel in Perth tonight and I was quite disappointed. I had previously seen him do a show a few years back that totally blew me away but this one got me offside right from the start. It may have just been a bad night (but others seemed to like it, so it may have been just me???)

    I just found his extreme arrogance overrode everything he was trying to say. Like the stories had funny/poignant bits and so forth, but I didn't laugh at them as I was actually keen for the show to end - so much so I nearly walked out...

    The thing is I could not have any higher praise for the previous show I had seen (standup @ The Power House in Brisbane a few years back) so I am quite torn as to what else to say here.

    He had me enthralled for 3 hours (or something like that) back then, but today I wanted to leave after 15 minutes of his whiny b.s.

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