66a Church Road - A Lament, Made of Memories and Kept in Suitcases

Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Daniel Kitson (writer)
Daniel Kitson
Running time

As the man himself admits at the end of the show, the big old barn that is Traverse 1 is really a bit too remote to let the most people get the most out of Daniel Kitson’s intimate lament for a lost home. And yet it’s a testament to his sheer storytelling power that he manages to make it all work so well for so much of the time.

Set in the midst of an artfully-arranged collection of old suitcases, there is something of the campfire about this story in which man meets flat, man falls in love with flat, flat turns out not to be worth buying and so man moves somewhere else. The skill, of course, is all in the richly textured detail with which Daniel Kitson relates each of these stages, especially the giddy years of casual bliss spent eating ice cream, playing computer football and developing a preternatural ability to always hit the sink with a teaspoon chucked over the shoulder in the kitchen.

Neatly structured and recounted with genuine feeling, all of this sort of stand-uppy material will find its mark with most audiences.
A slightly more hit-and-miss aspect of the show comes in the form of voiced-over passages that describe the end of a love affair with a woman. Clearly intended to augment Kitson’s central conceit that "66a Church Road was the longest relationship of my life," these are, for me, regrettably underscored with music that brings to mind those faux-hippy mobile-phone or building-society adverts in which people are at pains to stress their humanity, to draw on the ancient unspoken rule that acoustic-guitar arpeggios always accompany the imparting of profound emotional truth. It’s not, of course, Kitson’s fault that such a noble musical style has been so thoroughly bastardised by the marketing industry, but the effect here is to allow the whiff of manipulation into an otherwise wire-free show.

Undoubtedly entertaining, and featuring some cute on-stage projections and use of props, this is a show that Daniel Kitson’s many fans will lap up. How many of said fans would think Kitson so original if they had read any e.e. cummings remains, however, a moot point.

Times: Aug 3-24 at 17:00 (no show Aug 11 or 18)