Daniel Kitson: It\'s The Fireworks Talking

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

More than 10,000 miles from home, and Daniel Kitson is still in a league of his own, with another faultless stand-up show balancing the unlikely combination of romantic whimsy, uppity intolerance, intellectual arrogance and withering, often self-deprecating, wit.

This 90-minute monologue exerts such a strong emotional tug that it fully immerses the audience in his quixotic ideals. He sets out his utopia, defined by such simple pleasures as fireworks, making footprints in virgin snow or paddling the sea, so convincingly and so touchingly that no one could ever disagree. Even when he temporarily punctures his own spell with the frequent razor-sharp lines that make this such brilliant comedy, the uncomplicated beauty of his desires remains robustly intact.

In Melbourne, he’s occupying an 850-seat theatre for the month and, treating success with his usual suspicion, is slightly vexed that he’s filled it on an otherwise sluggish Monday night. Simple maths dictates many of the audience will be newcomers to the wonderful world of Kitson, so he sets out his stall. ‘Too many comics chase laughs and applause,’ he says. ‘I strive for mildly perplexed apathy.’ Then, turning on the rampant egotism, he reassures them. ‘Don’t worry, I’m excellent.’

And, of course, he is. It’s that sort of switch that gives Kitson’s work its power. He can swing from delicate beauty to savage putdown in the blink of an eye. The vivid images he paints of an idyllic world ruled by love and awe brings richness to the show; the stark reality that such simple dreams are invariably ruined by the very existence of other people gives it the edge. The ethos is misanthropic towards strangers, but adoring towards friends and family.

It’s The Fireworks Talking is a show about the magic moments away from the daily drudge that make up life’s highlights, and more particularly about the bond between parents and children – and how Kitson becomes enraged by mothers and fathers who put their selfish, immediate whims ahead of the wellbeing of their offspring. Inevitably, this comes around to his own relationship with his parents – the secret love that must never be spoken of in a middle-class English family.

The ideas are all encased in beautiful storytelling and informed by astute insight, perfectly expressing aloud for the first time what many of us have surely thought. Come for the jokes – you won’t be disappointed – but it’s the delightful imagery and touching emotion that will have you hooked.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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