Rev Stan's Theatre blog StOlivier awards for 2014
Review: An evening in Tobias Menzies' hotel room (The Fever, May Fair Hotel)

Review: Daniel Kitson hangs out in a Tree, Old Vic Theatre

Treew165h250The Old Vic Theatre has a rather large and impressive tree on its round stage. On the floor beneath it a road is marked out with white tape (and the word 'ROAD' just in case you were unsure) and there are also squares marking imaginary tree stumps.

Tim Key arrives with a cool box and a small ruck sack. He's meeting 'Sarah' for a picnic date underneath the tree but he's got the time mixed up, forgotten the clocks went back. Then he notices Daniel Kitson up the tree. Over an hour and a half the two men tease out each other's stories - the back ground to the date and why up a tree. They are amusingly told, often filled with banter, teasing and incredulity.

The picnic is set out during the conversation - very ordinary yet pertinent fare which is served with a particular flourish - and Kitson stays up the tree.

Kitson - a stand up comic - wrote the script (and directed) and has skillfully captured the humour in the ordinary and daft. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments and chuckles but I couldn't help feeling that the story and premise was being stretched.

In fact it felt like a comedy sketch or one of those half hour telly specials that had been bloated to feature length size and I'm not sure the material quite sustains it.  When the laughs weren't forth coming the dialogue felt a little flat and empty. And, trying to catch glimpses of Kitson as he moves about the tree gets a little tiresome.

The ending feels like a punch line which the preceding 85 minutes has been setting up. Don't get me wrong, it is a funny finale but in the end I couldn't help thinking of it as one very elaborately told joke.

Tree has a charm, cleverness and humour and for that I can admire it but I don't think it quite works as a full length play.

It runs at the Old Vic Theatre until 31 January, 2015 and is 90 minutes without an interval.