The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church
Daniel Kitson @ Adelaide Town Hall – Auditorium
9:30pm, Sun 6 Mar 2011
Daniel Kitson is an incredibly easy comedian for me to love; he’s intelligent, he’s extremely articulate, and he doesn’t mind a good ol’ swear. I’ve been lucky enough to see his sterling stand-up sets three times now, but I’ve only caught one of his “story shows”: 2008’s The Ballad of Roger and Grace.
The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church, as it turns out, is somewhere in between those two modes of expression; where Roger and Grace had musical accompaniment, tonight Kitson stands alone onstage (in the wide and deep expanses of the Adelaide Town Hall) and tells a single story. There’s no props (other than a small stool), no pre-recorded material, no fancy lighting – just Kitson and his notebooks, which he refers to ever-so-occasionally.
The story, stemming from Kitson’s chance discovery of a box of letters in a house that he was looking at buying, focuses on Gregory Church, the previous owner of the house. Fuming at the ills of the world (and the people in it), Gregory had decided that he didn’t want to be any part of it: he was going to kill himself, right after he let the fifty-seven people with whom he had issues know what he thought of them. By writing them letters.
The letters took much longer to write than he anticipated; by the time they’d all been written, replies from the first posted had returned, warranting further reply. This cycle continues, stretching Gregory’s life out…
It is, as the Fringe Guide blurb so perfectly says, “the story of a death postponed by life.”
Look, I’ve probably already said too much about the plot – much of it probably wrong. But Kitson’s writing is, as usual, exemplary; his stutter almost absent over the hour-and-a-half show. And it really, truly, is a wonderful story; sure, he’s talking about a man contemplating taking his own life for much of the time, but he builds Gregory up as a sympathetic – albeit eccentric – character, and peppers the tale with hope and sadness and joy and curiosity – and a dash of pathos. It’s a wonderfully rich experience, and one that left me in a quandary; just how would I write a blog post about it?