Daniel Kitson and Gavin Osborn present Stories For The Starlit Sky at Latitude 2010

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

This is surely going to be sacrilegious, considering Daniel Kitson would have every right to the title of best comedian of his generation, but I was underwhelmed at this story session. The hour was quietly enjoyable, but lacked the powerful romantic pull of his usually divine monologues.

The stories were those he performed at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London last year – three interlinked but standalone yarns designed as bedtime stories for grown ups; although who goes to bed as early as 1am at an outdoor festival is a moot point.

Also, the setting wasn’t as idyllic as it sounded. The idea of this warm, whimsical word-weaver sitting on the edge of a beautiful Suffolk lake as the audience huddle on the banks is more than slightly spoiled by the noise from ‘ironically’ cheesy discos spilling in from every direction, and rowdy crowds trooping past on Latitude’s main thoroughfare.

Such distractions notwithstanding, this second part of the triptych tootled along amiably enough. The twin narrative concerns a ten-year-old insomniac who needs bedtime stories before he can doze off, so one strand follows the yarn about a community of retired assassins now living in one sleepy English village made up for the youngster’s benefit, with the other is the real-life adventure as dad lets his son stay up through the night for the first time ever.

This secondary plot might have provided more moments of evocative magic – but was underplayed in favour of the hitmen story, which had the feeling of a quirky but not quite credible TV show – a Tale Of The Unexpected, maybe. But the twists were predictable and the ending riddled with holes, which Kitson acknowledges as a flaw of the father supposedly improvising the action.

However, even if the stories aren’t as rich as we’ve come to expect, the charmingly vivid language was as delicious as ever. Hearing the phrase ‘Hot chocolate o’clockolate’ is probably worth an hour sitting on dried mud alone – and one of the few times Kitson went for a laugh, perhaps for fear of breaking the story’s spell. Between the ‘chapters’, the delightfully talented Gavin Osborne provided suitably tender songs, maintaining the whimsical nature of the experience.

Perhaps this piece works best in concert with the other two components, and certainly more tranquil surroundings are a must, but the second Story For The Starlit Sky was more of a gently calming experience than the compelling must-see of Kitson at his unassailable peak.

Review date: 25 Jul 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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