Theatre review: Mouse – The Persistence Of An Unlikely Thought

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There’s no end, let’s face it, to the evolving brilliance of Daniel Kitson, who may have started out in stand-up comedy, but is now one of the most remarkable exponents of solo theatre in the UK, if not in Europe.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)

Now “38 years old and still not entirely bald” – although in truth, there’s not much hair in evidence – Kitson returns to the Traverse with a strange and magnificent piece about a version of himself, a writer hard at work in a bleak warehouse office in London, who suddenly receives on his landline (the phone signal is no good) a message from a man who sounds oddly familiar, and accuses Kitson of being in possession of his mobile phone, which he has lost.

The conversation that ensues is of surpassing, compelling weirdness, even when it starts at 10pm and continues not for the scheduled 75 minutes, but until almost midnight. The stranger seems intent on keeping Kitson on the phone, and finding out exactly what he’s writing; so Kitson starts to explain his story idea about an encounter between a woman and a mouse, and finds himself still at it almost 12 hours later, as dawn rises, and the relationship between him and the stranger becomes more and more uncanny.

This could, of course, become just another self-absorbed Fringe piece about the life of the artist, in this case about the dynamics of playwriting. As ever, though, in Kitson’s hands, the language takes flight, and the detail of contemporary life that forms the backdrop to this strange incident glows with a strange, affectionate vividness, offering us a journey through loss, coincidence, and the tiny decisions that shape our lives, that haunts the mind, and confirms Kitson’s status as a master storyteller at the height of his powers.

Until 28 August. Today 10pm.

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