I first saw Daniel Kitson in Australia almost by accident. He was doing a show called '66a Church Road - A Lament Made of Memories and Kept in Suitcases', as part of the Perth Arts Festival and my cousin Jen suggested we go. Neither of us knew anything about him or his work, but we thought it might be ‘alright’, which with hindsight was somewhat of an understatement!
But this unassuming genius is all about understatement. He casually walks onto the Royal Exchange stage attaching his microphone, with no announcement or fanfare, tells us a story for ninety minutes, and then leaves with just a quick ‘ Thanks, I hope you liked it’ as he exits the auditorium.
It seems almost a disservice to call Kitson a stand-up comedian, he’s much more than that, a master storyteller who has you hanging on his every word from start to finish. This show is billed as ‘A show about everything, and nothing’. In it he gives us glimpses of two ordinary people, Willam and Catherine, at various ordinary moments of their lives, and what came before and after those moments. William’s tale is told from death to birth, Catherine’s from birth to death, their lives are not linked, apart from one fleeting moment when they pass. And yet somehow the very ordinariness of their lives, the fact that they are like you or I or people we know, makes you realise how unique we all are.
Kitson packs so much detail into his beautifully crafted narrative, and delivers at such a relentless pace, the effect as an audience member is quite mesmerising, you don’t want to lose concentration even for a moment in case you miss yet another well observed gem. He displays a great affection for his characters, and there is a lot of comedy in the piece, but also tenderness and sorrow.
I’m so glad I got to experience the magic of Kitson for a second time, and a bit closer to home on this occasion. He is an exceptionally talented performer who treats his subjects with warmth and humour, and it’s a privilege to be witness to it.