As Carol Vorderman might put it, Daniel Kitson takes his audiences on journeys. Not in the Thomas Cook sense, or even Voderman’s, but we frequently arrive at destinations that are very different from those we expected an hour or so before.
In this show, the journey seemed a particularly quirky one, as Kitson appeared to cut the ground from under himself from the outset. But like Tommy Cooper’s magic or Les Dawson’s piano playing, one has to be exceptionally good to appear to be floundering.
Admitting that the set he had designed and the effects he had hoped to deploy were nowhere to be seen, Kitson treated us to a reading of the script of the show he had hoped to bring us. At this point one is either happily on the train and seated comfortably or heading for the exit. Thankfully a full house of Kitson fans ensured no doors banged in the ensuing performance.
Kitson’s tale of the creation of Maximillian Cathcart, heir to considerable wealth, who turns his back on his inheritance in the face of family tragedy, and then proceeds to live by the principle of possessing nothing material for more than twenty four hours, becomes a metaphorical quest to explain the wellsprings of creativity. How he contrives to live by his guiding principle and how Kitson attempts to create the story of this imagined life fully fills eighty minutes of virtually non-stop Kitson.
In lesser hands this could indeed lead to the slamming of auditoria doors and dark mutterings in the foyer, but Kitson is never less than the consummate performer.
It’s always a pleasure to see someone of Kitson’s calibre at work, and a nightmare to try and encapsulate their achievement afterward. If this review is brief, it reflects the difficulty of defining what makes for genuinely satisfying theatre. If you still can, try and get a ticket.
Times: 7-26 August (not Mon), various times
Tickets: £12 (£10)