Friday, May 10, 2013

Daniel Kitson: After the Beginning . Before the End Collection of Reviews

Daniel Kitson's new show "After the Beginning . Before the End" has begun to tour.  As I have done in the past with other shows (Where Once Was Wonder, As of 1.52pm GMT) I will try to keep track of reviews here and will indicate "spoilers" where necessary.

Memoir and Memory

Counting down the days until I see it myself.

WIP Review (Sydney)

The reviewer says this is a not a review of the show when it was a WIP, noting the "hilarious, impressive way [Kitson] delivers these uniquely disturbing, yet utterly human, thoughts."  The non-reviewer says one of the major themes of the work is "memory."


A Leeds-based reviewer describes the new show as "a strange surprise."  Saying, "Genre-wise, it’s incredibly slippery" as this show seems to fall between the edges of stand-up and storytelling. "What actually happens is that Daniel Kitson thinks at us for two hours."  The reviewer notes Kitson's usual "poetic nonchalance in his delivery" and his "whimsical philosophy" but because of the background music and Kitson's format he said it had "a dreamy quality."

A Liverpool reviewer talks about the show's introspective pose and its exercise in "overthinking life." Remarking that Kitson is "an exceptional performer and captivates the audience with ease."  Calling it a "uniquely personal story" that forces the audience to consider their own.

The Independent says the "new show is a reflection on reality, memory and our sense of self."  And though that does not lead to non-stop laughs, the reviewer finds Kitson "a supremely charismatic host, an astute social commentator and a master craftsman of elaborate sentences that unfold neatly like origami."  Ultimately, "it's the pathos and the humanity at the heart of his musings that stay with you."

The Times gave the show three stars but complains the show is "too long for its own good."  Clive Davis says the show "offers a meditation on how memory bewitches us all, weaving layers of misunderstanding and myth around the most banal experiences."  He argues fans will enjoy it but those who are neutral towards Kitson might feel "less indulgent." 

 The Arts Desk gave the show four stars.  The reviewer was new to Kitson but appears to have been won over. "He tangles fearlessly with an extensive vocabulary, using lateral wit to conjure narratives in which he portrays himself as a commitment-phobic, faintly pervy, rich recluse who doesn’t know how to fill his empty days."  The reviewer describes the theme of the piece "[Kitson's] and humankind’s delusions regarding memory" and again notes this is not really stand-up but an "offbeat lecture."

The Argus says "It’s very rare that being emasculated is an enjoyable experience. Watching Daniel Kitson provides one of those moments."  Noting this show falls between storytelling and stand-up, it runs "with a loose theme about memory and imagination, [and] it is best described as scripted stream of consciousness."

The Nottingham Post notes that Kitson is a "Self-confessed habitual self-Googler" and the critic is conscious that what he writes might be judged by Kitson himself, but nevertheless "after watching his almost two-hour monologue on the nature of the self, subjectivity, memory, perception and reality, I have nothing bad to say."

The Guardian weighs in on the new show giving it 4 stars.  Noting the philosophical musings in this show push Kitson further from the traditional stand-up fray but "it's a while since Kitson has resembled a normal standup." Finding that Kitson sets himself apart from others because his work comes from the heart--"unsentimental honesty."  "The phrasemaking, the ridiculous overthinking, the absence of cliche, the hypnotic intensity – this is gripping stuff."

Gigglebeats (in a maybe little spoiler-y review)  reports on the show which is "[s]omewhere between stand-up and storytelling" and notes Kitson's "almost-hypnotic" rhythm in the script.  Kitson is playing "the luckless protagonist in his latest tragedy."  But the reviewer says "one thing is certain; this is one of Kitson’s best shows yet."

The British Theatre Guide says Kitson "is a charismatic eccentric performer" and discusses how subjective memory is in this show about memory and perceptions.  "This was Kitson at his sharpest, perceptive, questioning best."

My Review is full of spoilers (or I think they are).  Check it out if you have already seen the show or are not likely to.

Funny Fecker  has a few spoiler-y moments in their review but says "Kitson is like tantric sex, it may be too much for some, but for the majority it’s a long period of heightened, sustained pleasure."  Finding Kitson was "hypnotic" and the feeling they left with was serenity.  "[A]lthough you may not leave with a selection of new pub jokes to tell, you may, like me, leave a changed person."

Chortle says "This is not a philosophy lecture, however much it may prompt contemplation." Calling Kitson "disarmingly honest about what he examines" and the themes of the work are "all explored with typical literate erudition." It's not all roses however, the critic says this "introspection can get a bit intellectually gloopy – dragging back the funnies in favour of pondering which could benefit from an edit" and found the "hypnotically lilting rhythms he plays beneath his monologue adds nothing." Also "there is not the underlying joy or optimism of Kitson’s earlier, simpler shows, just doubt."

Culture Vulture says the new show "finds Kitson in reflective mood."  "Kitson evokes feelings of both sympathy and disdain in equal measure."  "[N]o real conclusions to be drawn from the narrative of the show and I guess that’s the point."When trying to categorize Kitson, the reviewer says "he’s thought provoking but most of all funny and above all else that is what comedy should be isn’t it?"

Culture Vulture's reviewer revisits the show and finds on second viewing the show is "centered more on notions of truth and thought than loneliness."  "Kitson evokes feelings of both sympathy and disdain in equal measure."  The overarching narrative offers "no real conclusions to be drawn."  But the reviewer says "I guess that’s the point. As he says, our life is the story we tell our self and the past is how we remember it whether that is rightly or wrongly."

Student newspaper The Boar says "To watch Kitson is laughter, amazement and empathy all at once."  Celebrating Kitson's underground status and desire to remain there, "his comedy remains pure to himself, untarnished by commercial pressure."  The reviewer notes "he has a magnificent, perhaps unprecedented ability to transfix the audience in pure awe and admiration."

The Kirkintilloch Herald says "‘After the Beginning. Before the End’ adds yet another facet to [Kitson's] flawless back catalogue."  Describing the show, the reviewer says "Heavyweight ruminations on Lockean memory theory run alongside fiercely-personal vignettes from Kitson’s own life."

Blogger Mabel Slattery (@Slatteroo) says this show "is a beautiful expression of what makes people who they are."  Calling the show "funny and powerful" and noting Kitson "simultaneously takes you in and keeps his distance."  Also a lovely postscript about the terror of speaking to the man himself.

The Yorkshire Post laments "it is difficult to watch Kitson is because you can’t help feeling that this is as good as it can feel he has reached a zenith and amazing as it is to see him at the top of his game, there is a sadness that there’s nowhere left to go."  Calling the show "meandering" and "poetic" and makes you want to relive over and over again "the set’s sheer brilliance and beauty."

Dominic Cavendish writes in the Telegraph about Kitson as compared to Derren Brown, giving both five stars.  Cavendish says "Although their acts are worlds removed, each is performing a Svengali-like magic – providing a running commentary on what’s happening, deconstructing what they’re up to, but in ways that deepen the mystery and enchantment rather than lessening it."

The Sabotage Times calls Kitson's newest show "unconventional, accessible and vital as ever."

Reviewer Scott Barnett seeing Kitson for the first time says "Kitson skewers social conventions and clich├ęs with his sometimes-silly yet poignant linguistic acrobatics verging on the poetic."  The space at Battersea Arts Centre felt a bit like they were worshiping at the church of Kitson to which Barnett concludes "Daniel Kitson has gained a new member of the flock, amen."


Blogger Keith R Higgons says "Kitson is equal parts anthropologist, misanthrope, narcissist and all comedic genius."  Struggling to label the show, Higgons concludes it's "perfect collision of stand up, monologue and spoken word."  "Kitson’s careful examination and explanation of his material and thought process is as nuanced as it is hysterical."

I reviewed the show in comparison to the version I saw in the UK.

Woman Around Town Marti Sichel called the show "a highlight of the summer season thus far."  Noting Kitson can insult his audience but not a bit of animosity is felt because he is amusing in his delivery and is so quick to turn the lens back on himself.   Kitson is among the performers "who are so good at what they do that you can't help but sit back in awe of them."
a highlight of the summer season thus far.

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