Daniel Kitson

Daniel Kitson

Daniel Kitson: It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later

Video on demand review by Stephanie Lim

The covenant between Daniel Kitson and his following is an exchange of narrative mastery for complete subservience – a bargain most are willing to make. Whether it’s forgoing bathroom breaks and bar runs during a two-and-a-half-hour ‘work in progress’ or being conscripted as one of 20 unsuspecting audience members to press ‘play’ on an iPod at the exact right moment for Polyphony to commence, Kitson makes sure we know who’s boss before we’re granted passage to his gloriously eccentric universe. 

The expectation of playing by his rules is what makes his accidental release of It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later a surprising novelty. Due to a technical slip-up – he had intended to keep the link secret while deciding what  to do with the footage – the 2012 performance has recently become made available to rent through his self- administered website. 

This serendipitous mistake typifies the essence of the show, which is about fleeting, seemingly insignificant moments which retrospectively have an immense impact. 

Kitson’s grandiose introductory claim that the show is a ‘story about everything’ lends itself perfectly to the staging and setting of the performance. His solitary figure surrounded by the gladiatorial seating of the Manchester Royal Exchange generates the illusion of a man on trial who must plead his case for the masses to justify his initial statement. Daniel, at this point fully in the lion’s den, goes on to spend the next 90 minutes doing just that. 

With the pace of a livestock auctioneer and articulate eloquence of a seasoned literature professor, Kitson’s narrative tirade is a high-octane expression of the emotive – and often comedic – low-key events of everyday life, as told through the eyes of his characters William and Caroline. 

Each moment he dictates is illuminated on stage by its own lightbulb which Kitson hovers over and gesticulates towards as if conducting the events in real-time, like an omniscient puppet-master. The constellation of lightbulbs we see on stage appear to represent the distinct yet interconnected moments in time which contain their own gentle significance. 

While his theme is grand, his delivery is threaded with perfectly commonplace dialogue, occasionally punctuated by a well-placed cuss. When uttered by Kitson, swearing doesn’t seem quite as profane, rather a necessary human reaction to a world of normalised oddities. 

This innate ability to remarkably remark on the unremarkable is what captivates his audience. Delivered with such perverse specificity, to the point where he stops the show to address an otherwise unnoticed error, mentioning ‘broken knees and a bruised nose’ instead of ‘a broken nose and bruised knees’, Kitson’s attention to detail is what reassures the audience that his content and structure have been painstakingly tried and tested to meet his lofty ambition. 

It might be easy to disregard the show as pretentious nonsense should concentration or endurance waver, but for those willing to embrace every carefully selected word and share in ‘linguistic liberalism with a complete stranger’, the reward is vast. 

Funny, sweet, prosodic, charming, this modern parable about temporality is the perfect axis of poignant storytelling and high comedy.

• It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later  is available to rent here.

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Published: 29 Mar 2018

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2001

Love Innocence And The Word Cock


Edinburgh Fringe 2004

Daniel Kitson


Edinburgh Fringe 2006

C-90

The Honourable Men Of Art


Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Free Gaza!


Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Polyphony


Melbourne 2015

Daniel Kitson: Polyphony


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