9/6/10, New Players Theatre
Daniel Kitson's latest theatrical monologue. A disappointment after The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church, which we saw in Edinburgh.
Maybe that was simply a better piece (A's daughter Jo's boyfriend Steve says he thinks 66a Church Road was written earlier). Maybe Kitson's peculiar combination of story-telling whimsy and sophisticated jokes works well the first time you hear it, but seems self-indulgent, sentimental and really a bit boring second time around. Maybe the venue was wrong: the New Players is a long thin hall in which Kitson on stage seemed a long way away and his props (miniature models in a succession of battered old suitcases) were barely visible, whereas we were much closer and on three sides of him at the Traverse. Maybe it was too long and repetitive: at 40 minutes it might have been just right. Maybe there weren't enough jokes. Maybe he needs a director to collaborate with and reign him in. Maybe Gregory Church was better because it was an invented narrative in which Kitson as narrator played only walk-on parts, whereas Church Road is largely about him and, while there are plenty of wry smiles of recognition in his account of himself, he's just not interesting enough. Maybe it was all of the above.
Stage littered with suitcases. Kitson comes on and tells us the story of his infatuation with his old flat in Crystal Palace in which he lived for six years, which sounds pretty ordinary but which had lots of original features like sash windows and fireplaces and which to him was home, which he tried and failed to buy from his landlord several times, and which he eventually left two and a half years ago. Interspersed with blacked-out sequences of recorded voice-over which apparently related some of the things that happened to him in the flat, including a relationship with a woman who is otherwise never alluded to.
It's about what "home" means, and about nostalgia, he tells us at the beginning, which isn't some cosy dewy-eyed emotion but means in the original Greek fear of losing a place.
Moments of cleverness but generally dull.
Nothing quite as witty as his ad lib demolition at the end (he stutters badly when he's not got a script) of those people who chose to walk out in the middle to get more drinks.