Remember those blank cassette tapes you used for making compilations of your favourite tunes, before the recordable CD, MP3 and iPod? Now even the library for discarded compilation tapes has become a redundant facility.
At least that's what Daniel Kitson would have us believe in his tour de force of whimsy, C-90. Disarming in his nondescript manner and casual appearance, Kitson spins a beguiling yarn that takes him and us into a gentle, bygone world peopled by obscure and unglamorous characters. In a beautifully constructed and well-paced monologue he unfolds the richly observed layers of lives that are touching and real, sad and funny.
"Last days are important," declares the lollipop lady and, relying on the power of music, she does her best to make them memorable. The tapes that are delivered anonymously on a person's last day at work are carefully dubbed with tunes that reflect the recipient's personality, perhaps even revealing previously unrecognised aspects of his or her feelings.
For Henry, the unassuming bloke who keeps life at arm's length, the search for the creator of an unsolicited compilation tape is just the beginning - before the narrative breaks off. Some C-90s were more generous than others, but Kitson provides enough entertaining material to occupy the longest, 135m tape. I hope he's taken the precaution of applying write-protect to prevent accidental erasure.
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