REVIEW: Me And Mr C. @ Alphabetti Theatre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As somebody who suffers from what is known as the critical inner voice, I knew inherently that Me and Mr C. was something I needed to see at Alphabetti Theatre. As the press release goes, the show is a one man improvised rendering ‘of what it is like to have a voice in your head that explains to you with authority, purpose and well referenced arguments, that you are a worthless piece of shit.’ I had my misgivings about what motivated me to see the play though. See, when you expect art to act as a mirror confirming your own individual solipsism, well for me at least, I start to hear a voice in my head that says ‘You silly tit.’

Mr. Kitching quickly got on with it, affecting a caustic snarl whilst reading some negative reviews of previous gigs. To self-deprecate is to defend, but it is synchronous with launching a charm offensive. Kitching had everyone on his side immediately and found an audience more than willing to provide glimmers of an imaginary world for him to then draw the lines, connecting up the constellation of a narrative. Kitching’s cerebral cortex seemed to be firing with the kind of electrical activity seen in a plasma globe as he skipped between ad-libbed vignettes exploring isolation, despair and self-loathing. Yet, despite the often bleak digressions the vibe was very warm and communal, with waves of laughter permeating the room, though how much of this was schadenfreude I can’t tell. This was very much a collaborative effort between a manic stage actor flashing a devilish conspiratorial grin and a hyperactive audience in thrall to the whirling dervish/Stanley-Ipkiss-transformation-into-The Mask/Tasmanian Devil that charged around in front of them.

The show reached its denouement as Kitching began to extemporise through his puppet, the titular Mr. C., vaulting into a ruthless self-flagellation as the critical voice incarnate scourged him for all his failings. Gary Kitching demonstrates a preternatural dexterity in reflecting the contradictory truths in, not just my life as I so hoped he would, but moreover life in general. His improvisation of each show lends the performance an instability by proxy. Like a trapeze artist in mid-air he reaches into the unknown and offers you, to quote Charlie Kaufman ‘the experience of watching someone fumble, because I think that’s maybe what art should offer. An opportunity to recognise our common humanity and vulnerability.’


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