The Ballad of Roger and Grace (FringeTIX)
Daniel Kitson & Gavin Osborn @ Bosco Theatre
3:30pm, Wed 12 Mar 2008
It’s a completely bizarre non-opening; the house lights drop, the crowd murmurs cease. A minute of silence passes, maybe two, the stage empty save for two chairs and two microphones. There’s a rustling behind the curtain, then Kitson’s head suddenly appears through the plush redness. Just his head, bewildered and bemused, like it’s disembodied and levitating. “Wot’s going on?” he asks, as we all sit bemused by this “wacky” start to the show: “Have you dropped the lights, then?” It soon becomes apparent, though, that this isn’t a faux-opening and, after a bit more bumbling about, Kitson and Osborn take to the stage with an almost extravagant lack-of-fuss.
The Ballad of Roger and Grace is two tales, one told through prose (Kitson, reading from a book), the other through song (Gavin Osborn, who also plays guitar). The tales are related by the common character Charlie, whose presence in prose is almost one of a spectator, but in song he comes to the fore – ridiculed, longing, loved, then spurned. The two threads work really well in parallel, and the prose / song pairs are really well paced.
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Kitson’s writing; he’s got a truly wonderful way with words, and I actually far preferred this presentation to any of his stand-up stuff. Osborn’s songs were great, utterly wrenching in parts, but Kitson’s witty, touching, and sometime absurd writing made this an absolute standout for me.