C90 review - SkinnyFest 2

Article by Jonathan Liew | 14 Aug 2006
Daniel Kitson is not an easy man to get to know. Far happier in the shadows than in the mainstream, he refuses all offers of interviews and television. But to fully appreciate his work, understanding him is essential. His appearance casts him as an outsider, but he is no freakish social misfit. A man who sees moral and intellectual decay all about him, at heart he's an inexhaustible sentimentalist. C90 is perhaps the perfect outlet for his talents, dealing in romance and nostalgia, and capturing your heart in the way only Kitson knows how.

On a sparsely decorated set, Kitson walks around the stage recounting the story without the benefit of actors, or even very much dialogue. Henry, on his last day at work, mysteriously receives a tape and tries to work out who sent it to him. Henry could easily be an older version of Kitson himself, straddling the twin imperfections of overt pessimism and unfulfilled promise. Gradually the story unfolds to include a variety of characters in Henry's village. Kitson relishes in his construction of these fictional people, imbuing them lovingly with nuance and detail. The strength of the story allows the worlds of these characters to melt deliciously into one another, and allows Kitson the storyteller to give his own brand of bittersweet humour free and adorable rein.

Not everybody will fall in love with C90. Both curiously indefinite and a thing of beauty, it will frustrate those who find Kitson's irrepressible taste for whimsy grating. But this is exactly as Kitson will have intended it. After the play, the audience can step onto the stage and examine the monolithic shelves on which thousands of cassettes are stacked. Every single tape – every one – has been adorned with felt-tip scrawl, or intricately decorated in some way, just as it would have been in the story. When you encounter such tender attention to detail, the only possible course of action is to lie back and be swept along.
C90, Traverse Theatre, until August ??, 22:30, £15 (£10), Daniel Kitson.