Daniel Kitson: It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Friday 13 August 2010
Daniel Kitson pads on to the stage, lightly puffed out, in beard, braces and brown trainers and thanks us for coming to see him at this heroically early hour. It does feel a little strange, settling down to watch the Perrier Award-winning comedian at 10 in the morning, and there are a few bleary eyes around the auditorium. The early start is not a quirk of Fringe scheduling, though. It's all part of Kitson's plan "to put something amazing where you wouldn't expect to find it. To take the first moments of the morning and fill them with something silly and sad and wonderful".
And, on a glossy black stage filled with hundreds of glowing lights and their infinite reflections, Kitson proceeds to do just that. This is the story of Caroline Carpenter and William Rivington. It's not a romance, he warns us. In fact, "it's no more a love story than the Bible is a book about woodwork". What it is, undoubtedly, is a glorious 90 minutes of storytelling. It's the tale of two lives, told backwards and forwards, in tiny, brilliant flashes: bus journeys and eggy bread, planting trees and falling off bikes, rainstorms and constellations, births and deaths.
Kitson is, as always, a charming raconteur, his warm Yorkshire accent wrapping the audience up like a cosy rug, making the odd carefully timed gag or profanity an unexpected joy. Spluttering demolition jobs on dating and parenthood explode out of nowhere and are all the funnier for it.
His way with words is simply extraordinary. "Who among us doesn't enjoy the word 'toboggan'?" he demands before listing off some more immutable facts: "Cows have pretty eyes. And marshmallows are delicious if strangely moreish." Observations on love and life are beautifully drawn: falling in love is like hearing a new song then going straight out and buying everything in the band's back catalogue; loneliness is baking a cake and then having to spend the whole of the next week eating it.
Characters are vividly drawn. A mother is summed up – with economical perfection – as the kind of woman who thinks it better to arrive early and be a bit bored. By the end, we feel we might have known Caroline and William our whole lives.
Here are the infinitesimally small moments that, bit by bit, make up a life. They may not seem significant at the time, Kitson tells us as the stage goes dark, but it all comes together in the end. Joyous and spellbinding – I can't think of a better way to start the day.
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