Saturday, August 14, 2010

Edinburgh: It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later at the Traverse

Daniel Kitson’s storytelling shows have become something of an Edinburgh fixture, a part of the fabric of the fringe. This year he’s taken on the 10am slot at the Traverse, but while his audience may begin bleary they are soon rapt – and stay that way.

It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later is a beautifully constructed piece, an exercise in connection. Kitson, thickly bearded and a bit out of breath, stands on a gleaming stage amid a constellation of light bulbs and begins to tell a story; no, strike that, two stories. Two lives.

Kitson introduces his audience to William Rivington and Caroline Carpenter, two people who’s lives will intersect briefly though they never really meet, for while this is a show that deals in matters of love, it is not a love story. It is a show about moments. The moments that make up a life, the moments of joy, the moments of tragedy, but just as importantly, all the moments on the spectrum in between, all the moments that tumble by unremarked upon.

It’s a lovingly detailed piece of writing. Skipping backwards and forwards in time, covering all points between birth and death, Kitson brings Caroline and William to life. The everyday moments are given as much attention as the pivotal – a new hair cut, a shared breakfast, a staring child on a bus. As each moment passes one light bulb fades and another comes to life and Kitson weaves his way through the field of stars.

Resisting the urge to act things out, to supply voices, actions, instead he contents himself with just telling the stories and this is more than enough to hold the audience’s attention. For ninety minutes he never fumbles, he shapes and sculpts these two people until they are near enough on stage with him. Within their stories are moments of love and loss; Caroline marries but William, after one failed relationship (and one spectacularly botched date) resigns himself to a life of fairly contented solitude. Some moments are piercing in their simplicity: Caroline, struggling in the rain with her new baby, scared and sodden, is reassured by a kind, elderly woman: “it’s normal.”

Within this rich narrative tapestry there are repetitions, phrases and situations that are returned to with added resonance. And while it’s often bittersweet, often deeply touching, it is also very funny in places, punctuated by some lovely comic moments. The writing is often gently poetic and Kitson’s calm, measured delivery is, in its way, compelling. A truly wonderful show.

Reviewed for musicOMH

No comments: