Andrew Dipper

Review: Daniel Kitson: After The Beginning, Before The End – Gala Theatre, Durham

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Daniel Kitson doesn’t do things conventionally.

Typically understated, he emerges tonight without announcement, into a spotlight that barely covers himself, a table with a mixing desk and a chair. And so Kitson’s latest existential crisis begins – with a crisp, if slightly awkward, hello.

Somewhere between stand-up and storytelling, After The Beginning, Before The End is a scripted stream of consciousness, exploring notions of reality, memory and identity – with some excellent phrasemaking along the way.

A piece of music (steel drums, I think, but I’m no expert) underpins the narrative, instilling an almost-hypnotic rhythm to his script, elevating it from stand-up comedy to something Albert Camus would be proud of.

It is this rhythm – a daily routine – that Kitson’s missing in his life, as he plays the luckless protagonist in his latest tragedy.

While his next door neighbours have children and build families, Kitson invents new ways of playing pool on his own – to great comedic effect.

He stays up late Googling himself (hiya!) and watching crap films, and, in a rare confessional twist, Kitson reveals a deeply personal secret: he’s never loved someone at the same time they’ve loved him.

Is he doing it all wrong then? Are these moments “indicative of a failing life”?

Kitson’s conclusion is typically thoughtful; it is and it isn’t. What you see depends on where you’re standing. There’s no such thing as ‘truth’, he decides, more ‘a truth that is true for me.’

But amongst the chaos, one thing is certain; this is one of Kitson’s best shows yet.

Date of live review: Wednesday 22 May 2013