Review: A Show For Christmas By Daniel Kitson

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Oh no. It’s another one of his stories about a lonely young person and a lonely old person finding something in common. But Daniel Kitson’s Christmas story is different. Sort of. And if you don’t want to read about it or don’t have time just jump to the very last word and save us all a heap of bother.

As is usually the case with Kitson he didn’t have a press night and doesn’t particularly want reviews so I bought a ticket. Two actually – I had one for the first night but then had to go elsewhere and, by luck, saw one available on the BAC website about an hour before showtime last night and grabbed it. 

So I won’t really review the show here in any depth. Partly because a lengthy review would contain spoilers. And even though it’s unlikely that a lot of people reading this will ever see this show it would not be in the spirit to give too much away. Also it would make a great published story, so maybe it will have a future life in a book.

The bearded, bespectacled star starts with a bit of low-level theatre - shuffling around the stage moving Christmas trees and then changing his trousers behind one of them. He then sits mainly at a desk to tell the story of Polly, who is travelling home for Christmas through the inevitable snow in a hideously expensive rented motorhome.

In anybody else’s hands this could easily turn into a Planes, Trains and Automobiles epic, but, of course, Kitson has a lot more finesse than that. Though there is a full-on comic scene in the car hire office at the start, complete with him impersonating one of those giant inflatable figures you see outside garages.

And there is a strong visual and filmic quality to the writing. This is very much a road trip. Maybe of the spiritual variety, but (as well as making a great published story) a smart producer could turn this into a seasonal BBC drama that could be repeated every December. Forever.

Kitson’s delivery is pretty faultless. He refers to his notebook, but that doesn’t matter a jot. And his writing is a joy, even if he does have a fondness for alliteration – “battered box of baubles” and “tatty tinsel”. He has his cake and eats it by joking about this later, commenting within the plot that just because something alliterates doesn’t mean it is true.

The story is also much more accessible than some of his previous work. The narrative is punctuated by answerphone messages (courtesy of Isy Suttie) but there is not too much fannying about with the time-frame, which sometimes makes my head hurt and buggers up my total enjoyment of his theatrical output. 

So as I said, I hope I haven’t gone into too much detail. Comedy – and theatre – fans will already know how good Kitson is and this is up there with his best work. There is his usual compassion, his usual humanity and his usual comedy. Nothing too fussy, just a uber-Jackanory narrative for grown-ups. The venue was extremely cold at the start, but the Kitson magic warmed everybody up. Sorry. I guess I could have saved your time and written one word. Lovely. 

Until Dec 6. Possibly tickets here.

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