66A Church Road | Daniel Kitson
Written and performed by British comedian Daniel Kitson, 66A Church Rd is the story of a man’s nostalgia for his old home, delivered with such yearning that the loss is akin to that felt at the end of a romantic attachment.
The production lies somewhere between stand-up comedy and a theatrical performance. As the dim stage lights are raised we witness an unkempt Kitson sitting on an old wooden chair surrounded by dusty old suitcases, seemingly randomly scattered on an old rug.
Kitson rolls up his sleeves, gets himself comfortable on his seat and then he’s off and racing. Pay attention and stay alert because this man speaks at one almighty pace, throwing more literary prose at the audience than you can poke a stick at.
What unravels is his own personal story, journey if you like, of his love affair with his flat in Crystal Palace that he rented for six years. For an hour and a half Kitson shares with the audience all the precious memories of his ‘lovely’ little home from the sash windows, to the spooky office doors with glass insets, right down to the stains on the carpet and even the “deposits” left by dogs on his front step.
As the tale unfolds – the suitcases become props, many of them contain miniature models of his old home, one containing a projector that sparks to life and projects images of Crystal Palace.
For most audience members it was difficult to see these models, certainly any detail was lost at a distance. Kitson even refers to this at the end of the show and alludes to a ‘flaw’ in set construction, but personally I think it was well thought out and piqued audience interest even more.
Take for example when someone tells you about the love of their life, it's human nature to want to supplement that detail with a photograph of the person. So too, with Kitson’s flat. After thoroughly reliving the experience with him, it was no surprise that at the end of the show at least half of the audience went on stage to see the models up close and personal for themselves. Their curiosity got the better of them.
At regular intervals the stage plunges into darkness and Kitson’s monologue is cleverly interspersed with pre-recorded commentary punctuated with the sound of a ukulele in the background. This element serves a dual purpose of giving Kitson a moment to rest and the audience a chance to experience a different sensation before they become tired of the same scene.
Its during these pre-records that Kitson starts to refer to a relationship with a woman, alluding to moments in bed with her, as well as a breakup and longing to reunite. These images are never re-connected with the main monologue and it seems that Kitson inserts them to draw the parallel of his love for his flat, to the love of a woman.
Kitson’s descriptions of his friends and in particular his landlord are so good that it is almost as if you can see them come to life before your eyes. His pain is tangible as he tells the audience of his dream to buy his flat and his struggle with the landlord who dangles a carrot, always promising that he may sell him the flat later, always later.
Without giving the ending away, Kitson’s landlord starts to renovate his flat and I was immediately reminded of a term coined by a Murdoch University Professor Glenn Albrecht, ‘solastalgia’. Where nostalgia is a feeling you have when you are away from your home, solastaglia is the distress you feel when your home environment changes in unwelcome ways.
66A Church Road is unique and engrossing. You can take it on face value or you can search for a deeper meaning, it’s really up to you, but either way you are bound to take something from the experience.
2010 Perth International Arts Festival
66a Church Road
Written and performed by Daniel Kitson
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre
Wed 17 - Sun 21 Feb @ 8pm
Tue 23 - Sun 28 Feb @ 8pm
Sat 20 & Sat 27 Feb @ 2pm
Duration: 1hr 30min no interval