Polyphony**** (Roundabout Summerhall, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 26, 2015 in Theatre


Making our way to our seats across the stage at this small in-the-round venue, we brush past a bearded techie making last-minute adjustments to props. The “techie” is in fact Daniel Kitson, a man who has displayed signs of control freakery before and is now about to take the trait way further. In recent times, Kitson has been called “the new Samuel Beckett”, having had two plays performed at the National Theatre and one at the Old Vic. This seems to settle the argument conclusively that his works are in fact plays and not stand-up routines. Polyphony is again described a play, but, accepting that to be so, let’s call it a play about a stand-up routine. Many of the elements are familiar and Kitson again reveals an obsession with recently obsolete electrical equipment – in Anolog:Ue it was tape recorders and now it is i-Pods, which are placed into the hands of 15 audience members. In effect, Kitson is taking control of his audience by supplying his own hecklers. In a display of immaculate synchronisation and timing, he listens to the generally disparaging comments coming from the i-pods and reacts to them. The framework starts out to be a story about an old man going through junk as he prepares to move house, but Kitson seems to lose interest in the story and thereby discards any prospect of the touches of pathos that have made his previous plays so memorable. The joke begins to wear a little thin towards the end, leaving the impression that this is very minor Kitson. Nonetheless, it is meticulously crafted, original and for the most part highly entertaining.

Performance date: 20 August 2015

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