This weekend I popped over to Manchester to see the excessively talented Daniel Kitson perform his show, It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later.
The show is based around the lives of two people, William and Caroline, two people who meet only for the briefest moment, but live full extraordinary lives which are exceptional because of their banality. Yet their lives are not banal, not even close. Not every story can be a Hollywood epic and Kitson highlighted this point, showing that actually, the lives we lead, and experience, from birth to death are more extraordinary than any epic, are more resonant (obviously), interesting, funny and poignant than any blockbuster could ever be. The piece lasted 90 mins and at the end half of the audience, including my girlfriend, were in floods of tears, conflicted by the inherent comedy of the piece set against the effecting reality of a life ending. Probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
I’m never sure what to think when I see show’s that get to me, really touch me inside, make me laugh and cry. I love them, there is no doubt about that, but suddenly my own work seems increasingly insignificant. Maybe it’s how every Elizabethan playwright felt when comparing their work to Shakespeare or Marlowe. I was feeling great about seeing the show but increasing glum about my own work. I read some of my recent writing and sighed. Just not quite as good.
However I consoled myself with 3 points (which I realised today).
#1 Daniel Kitson is an exception – To use tennis as a metaphor, I am Tim Henman and I’m playing Nadal. I’m never really going to be able to compete on a like for like level, he is the exception rather than a rule, most players I can beat or lose to in equal measure, many non-tennis players I can rule over. But, maybe my skill isn’t tennis, maybe my skill is commentary, or table tennis, or squash, or something that’s not competing on a like-for-like basis? (was Henman a bad example?)
#2 I should try and perform something – I’ve been putting it off for far too long, but seeing someone perform their own work was very appealing, something in a zone separate from standup and theatre, it looked like something I’d like to do. Also I’d like the excuse to buy some braces…
#3 That I write different things to him – I write serious NHS monologues, and two-hander comedies, maybe if i stopped trying to be the next, Tim Firth, Alan Ayckbourn, Stewart Lee or Daniel Kitson I’d get a lot further and more satistfaction…
All my thoughts for today. Am now off to a festival launch, should be interesting….