Sixty-Six A Church Road: A Lament, Made Of Memories And Kept In Suitcases, By Daniel Kitson

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

This Daniel Kitson’s poetic lament to a lost love; the love he had for a building, the one place he was ever happy to call home. For him, a home is not just something to dwell in, but something to dwell on.

He loved how 66a Church Road in Crystal Palace, South London, provided him every comfort he ever wanted – even if that was mainly computer football, convenient fast food and DVD rental and a nearby park with plastic dinosaurs. But he also loved how it was the sum of everything that ever happened there before him, and he loved its every imperfection. The parallels with a human lover are obvious, and fleeting references suggest it is not just memories of bricks and mortar Kitson is dredging up.

He wonders aloud how we can ever capture our true emotions using the woefully inadequate tool of language, but he gives it a bloody good go. Every word is just perfect in a script littered with romantically archaic turns of phrase and wittily flamboyant flourishes. With his gentle delivery, it hypnotises the audience until we, too, have an emotional investment in the property.

Not everyone in the wistful story shares that feeling, however. Kitson has to deal with philistine estate agents who reduce complex sentiments about personal needs to a string of artless measurements. Worse is his grasping, soulless landlord, too blinded by returns on his investment to see the beauty of what he possesses.

These people are anathema to the quixotic Kitson, and provide the perfect illustrations for his long-held dismay that society no longer values the aesthetic. His articulate, measured anger against greed and selfishness provides the passion that drives the fluid monologue.

As usual for a Kitson show, it occupies the Venn diagram overlap between theatre and storytelling stand-up. It starts as witty monologue, and gradually builds to something more emotive, so subtly you don’t notice the jokes slide away. But still droll lines punctuate the thoughtful musings on the relationship between man and his home. His own personality quirks comes into play, too. His inability to haggle, awkwardness with workmen and easy irritability provide some of the lighter moments.

The 90-minute piece is beautifully staged. Kitson speaks from an old chair, surrounded by battered vintage suitcases, that hold not just his memories, but so much more. His story is told in episodes, his own voiceover bookending each with another thoughtful nugget on which to mull.

In the end, Kitson begrudgingly accepts the truth in the maxim: ‘If you love something, let it go’ and moves out. But like any human relationship, the memories can still haunt him, as he wonders what might have been. No wonder this lament is so tender.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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