Daniel Kitson @ Traverse Theatre
Daniel Kitson's new play has a few flaws, but displays his usual brilliance
"How many biscuits did I eat?" Daniel Kitson asks his audience, during one of the breather breaks in his rigorous (though inelegantly-titled) new play Mouse: The Persistence Of An Unlikely Thought. It’s a telling question that demonstrates several components of his style: he’s scatty and obsessive at the same time, an improviser whose fourth-wall-breaking footnotes are essential to the greater composition.
This one-man show revolves around a man much like Kitson, called William Booth, holding a conversation via speakerphone with a man (very much like both of them) who appears to have got the wrong number. Rather than have someone offstage play the caller live, Kitson has chosen to pre-record his own voice which he then has to act around, meaning that a stray line would break the carefully-calibrated spell. It’s a very impressive feat of acting, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin feeding himself through the cogs of a machine in the film Modern Times. Clearly Kitson is a man who loves and possibly needs such systems around him.
That formal audacity aside, the play itself sees his two doppelgängers discussing the tale of a woman who may or may not be communicating with a blinking mouse. It’s a usefully elliptical fable upon which to hang a host of philosophical musings. So, as the conversation deepens, Kitson spotlights the topics of choice and change; regret and missed opportunities.
There's a fair bit of yawning around the audience as the play trundles towards a pay-off that unfortunately isn’t quite as clever as the set-up, and the piece could do with an edit. However, it's bold, ambitious and memorable for the most part.
Daniel Kitson: Mouse: The Persistance of Unlikely Thought, Traverse Theatre, 6-28 Aug (not 8, 15 & 22), 10pm, £8.50-12