The word ‘graceful’ is probably not often applied to a bearded, bumbling, geeky, glasses-wearing man, but that is what Daniel Kitson is.

His perceived ‘flaws’ are not only captivating for an audience, but also create an authenticity rarely seen in solo performance. The performance is not gratuitous or self-indulgent as one often expects a solo performance to be. Daniel Kitson is just a man telling a story.

The Ballad of Rodger and Grace is the creation of comedian and playwright Daniel Kitson and musician Gavin Osborn. Two interwoven stories play out using the respective forms of the creators, in a harmonious journey that enchants and moves its audience. Daniel reads the story of Rodger, an elderly man who is telling a young man who he meets on a train about the greatest love story ever told. Gavin breaks up Daniel’s telling of Rodger’s story with interludes of his own gentle vocals and romantic acoustic guitar, singing the tale of Craig and the greatest love of Craig’s life. Stories and story-tellers overlap and weave together in this simple yet poignant performance.

The incredible gift of this simple production is its ability to perfectly evoke an image in the minds of its audience, without ever spending a single dollar on set, costumes, lighting etc. Just two men, sitting on chairs, in the middle of the stage under two downlights, directly facing their audience and spinning their yarns. It seems like such a simple idea. Yet the result is nothing short of enthralling.

Daniel Kitson tells what is essentially a rather dull and nonsensical story. Yet he infuses the story with so much detail, describing every moment with perfect specificity that it is difficult not to picture exactly what he is talking about. Again, this could be quite dull, but Kitson’s training as a comedian comes in to play, so his humour combined with emphatic passion and genuine likeability, make it hard for an audience to turn away.

Complementing Kitson’s excitable style is Gavin Osborn’s sweet lyricism and laid-back delivery. Osborn’s style of story-telling is different to Kitson’s, and not just in the obvious way that he sings his story rather than reading it from a book. Where Kitson is detailed to a fault, Osborn is generally more poetic. The largest difference though is that Osborn plays his character of Craig and tells Craig’s story by singing it as his own. Through Osborn’s songs, we witness the naïve boy grow into the besotted man and then the resigned lover.

The two stories, though thematically similar, are essentially different in content and in delivery. However the way in which the stories are performed, blended and layer into each other, create the connection between the two separate entities. As if one story could not exist without the other. It is inspiring to see such simple idea performed with such eloquence. It truly makes one believe that theatre can reach us in many different ways.

The Ballad of Rodger And Grace
By Daniel Kitson and Gavin Osborn

SYDNEY | Belvoir St Theatre | 23-28 February | 02 9699 3444 and
BRISBANE | Brisbane Powerhouse | 4-9 March | 07 3358 8600 and
ADELAIDE | Adelaide Fringe | Bosco Theatre | 11-15 March | 1300 374 643 and
MELBOURNE | Melbourne International Comedy Festival | Bosco Tent | 20-30 March | 1300 660 013 and

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