Daily Archives: August 16, 2012

As Of 1.52 pm GMT On Friday 27 April 2012, This Show Has No Title….

As Of 1.52 pm GMT on Friday 27 April 2012, This Show Has No Title
4 stars ****
Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)

FIRST, A FEW STERN WORDS. As Daniel Kitson well knows, there are far too many shows about theatre on the Edinburgh Fringe, designed for audiences of self-absorbed thesps; and most of them are as tedious as they are pointless.

The thing about Kitson, though, is that he is a genius of the spoken and performed word; so that when he boldly ventures into what he himself calls the solipsistic world of meta-theatre, everything in its unappealing territory suddenly turns to gold. In his latest solo show, Kitson imagines a story of playwriting in at least three layers. There are two fictional characters, a man called Max nearing the end of his life, and his nurse, to whom he tells the tale of his life-decision never to keep any object for more than 24 hours, and where it has led him. There is Dan, arguing with his co-writer Jen about how to present this story. And there is Daniel, arguing with his co-writer Jenny about how to present the story of Dan and Jen arguing about the story of Max.

All clear? I though not; and as of now, I remain confused about whether the co-writer, Jennifer Stott, actually exists, or is a mere figment of Kitson’s imagination. What I do know, though, is that in telling his story of one brilliant fictional idea, and the various indignities undergone by writers in trying to make a drama out of it, Kitson displays a relationship with the English language, and the everyday use of it, rivalled only by writers like Beckett – jokey, intimate, passionate, and so minutely perceptive, so brilliant at dwelling on details of diction the rest of us see only out of the corners of our eyes, that it leaves the audience gasping with laughter; and sometimes, too, almost moved to tears.

Joyce McMillan
Until 26 August
p. 256