C-90

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Anyone with any experience of Daniel Kitson's previous solo work will not be surprised to learn that his latest theatre piece revolves around romantic ideals of kindness, individualism and pride among the solitary.

Kitson's universe is a binary one; either you are quirky with firmly-held beliefs, even if that leaves you isolated in the conformist, aggressive world, or you are hard-hearted, unpleasant and so part of the problem. There's little room for the necessity of compromise in his endearing fairy tales.

Our hero in this particular touching story is Henry Leonard Boden, a man who spends his day in quiet seclusion; logging and filing every compilation tape ever discarded from his robust but battered wooden desk, complete with Bakelite phone, in a fusty library where one of those ladders on wheels allows you to whiz playfully around the shelves. It's a set that perfectly suits Kitson's own professorial look.

The tapes each represent a moment of hope turned into rejection; tokens of love that used music to say what a hopeful suitor could never put into words now cruelly dumped on to the scrapheap. Henry, who believes everything in life is an 'unmitigated letdown', never listens to the taps, just catalogues them until they become merely raw data to be processed. He once loved his job, but has long found it joyless, even before iPod technology has rendered him almost redundant.

At least, that was what he thought until he receives a mysterious tape addressed to him personally, which reawakens a spirit inside of him.

This is kind of a whodunit, or at least it would be if the guiding hand behind the package wasn't instantly obvious from the few other idiosyncratic characters Kitson introduces. But he wrings out plenty of precious moments from the unfolding tale, and he's a wonderfully descriptive, and often hugely witty, writer with a crystal-clear point of view.

It's not a piece of theatre, but wistful storytelling, and Kitson makes for an engaging narrator of his own tender ideas. C-90 does not depend on the narrative, which is slight, but on defining a model behaviour he would have everyone abide by in his personal utopia. It would be take a hard heart to disagree.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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