Daniel Kitson - A Made-up Story

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The Independent Culture

Every few years the world of entertainment throws up a fabulous disaster of such awesome proportions that all those lucky enough to see it can share the memory with friends and strangers for years.

Pop is notorious for such events; who can forget Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood, a pair separated by as many inches in height as years, sharing a microphone at the Brits, or the Stone Roses' lingering public immolation at the Reading Festival a few years back?

(It was a reassuring indicator of what was to come when the singer Ian Brown stumbled on to the stage in the same shirt he'd been sporting in the guest area for the previous three days.)

There have been plenty of lousy films and dreadful theatrical productions over the years too, even, incredibly, here at the Edinburgh Festival.

But the sheer, unalloyed joy of watching the ornery Daniel Kitson follow up last year's Perrier-winning Something - a discursive, extremely effective if essentially juvenile whine about our shared desire to complete ourselves with that one elusive and unspecified "thing" - with a useless short story reading accompanied by shoddy student videos, could beat all. Though a brilliant, abrasive stand-up, who refreshingly never resorts to emotional neediness, as a writer of fiction Kitson may well become the first comedian to have his scribblings rejected by a publishing house.

A Made-Up Story follows the misadventures of Dora, another of the accessible dream figures the comic loves to imagine, and Beth, actually male, although "his parents felt that such an attractive name shouldn't remain gender specific". (Cynics might suggest that Kitson's lisp has something to do with this easily pronounceable choice of moniker.)

This tale of two lost souls fated to meet after a series of moderately amusing misunderstandings will be instantly familiar to anyone who has read the works of proper authors such as Martin Millar or that Japanese master of the wistful, Haruki Murakami, (which come much cheaper and last longer). It's a struggle to explain all the ways in which this dreadful piece sucks. For a start there's the paucity of the language. Every female character over the writer's age (27 in fact, and not 17, as an unprepared listener might suspect) is described as a "lady", while the tired expression "potty mouth" is unaccountably assumed to have comedic qualities. Often, clichés appear, such as "stars coming from the sky".

Then there's the weak plotting, a total inability to set a scene without laborious physical descriptions and the continual reversion to the phrase "See, what had happened was ... " to shift the action.

When Les Dawson was penning stuff this predictable and sub-literate, he intended to frustrate his audience. But at best this might make for a one-hour special on BBC's radio station 6 Music, never to be repeated. Take along a book, and perhaps a pillow, if you've bought tickets already. There'll be plenty of room to kip at the back.

Venue 284, 10.30pm (1hr 15mins) to 24 August, not tomorrow (0131-228 9950)

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