Daniel Kitson – After the Beginning, Before the End – Battersea Arts Centre – Review


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There has been much critical acclaim of Daniel Kitson, but I’d never had the opportunity to see him live, until tonight. My cynical mind refused to believe anyone could live up to that kind adoration from fans and critics alike, so it was with skeptical trepidation that I entered the clammy, sold out grand hall at the Battersea Arts Centre.

The grand hall is stately with a looming pipe organ serving as a backdrop for Kitson’s small wooden table-cum-mixing desk; it felt like we were coming to worship at the church of Kitson.

With little preamble, it begins; much like a beat poem delivered at blistering speed. It felt as if we were listening to the internal workings of Kitson’s mind, a stream of consciousness accompanied by a subtle, synthesized soundscape throughout, deftly manipulated by Kitson to add emphasis to certain parts; lending a surreal, dream like atmosphere to the performance.

So utterly well rehearsed to perfection it might sound mechanical if it wasn’t for Kitson’s sublime delivery and ability to make things sound fresh and spontaneous.

Covering the topics of self-doubt, identity, memory and loneliness, Kitson skewers social conventions and clichés with his sometimes-silly yet poignant linguistic acrobatics verging on the poetic.

My only criticism was the pacing; so fast does Kitson throw sparkling insights at you that there’s barely a chance to breathe and consider them fully before the next wave hits. This is the kind of show that demands of you constant attention and more likely a second viewing in order to catch the nuances and brilliance peppered throughout.

When your only criticism is that there isn’t time to relish all the awesomeness, you know you’ve just witnessed something special. It’s safe to say that Daniel Kitson has gained a new member of the flock, amen.

2 comments

  1. I have been lucky enough to see a few of Kitson’s shows and I am always in the same boat as you. I will still thinking about a joke that has already been superseded by two further jokes and have no idea what people are now laughing at.

    Also, it was line a sauna in there and the chairs will cost me another trip to my osteopath…

    1. @nnop Yes, exactly, wish he would let things sink in a little. It’s like a super smart kids who has so many things to say and is so excited to blurt them out. However I’d rather be challenged by a comedian than not so, I’m not complaining too much.

      The venue itself is great, but the seating was terribly uncomfortable and it was far too sticky and hot. To BAC’s credit they did acknowledge this and send a warning email out prior to the show.

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