The Review: St. Ann’s Warehouse’s Keep
This might be the shortest review I will ever write, and that’s not because of anything negative, but bizarrely, quite the opposite. I want anyone who sees this to savor the ridiculousness of surprise and the snap of awakenment. The lack of words in this review is not because of a lack of desire to discuss. But just like the central character, played most ingeniously by Daniel Kitson (2017’s A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological Order), who might, honestly, be the oddest, funniest, and whip-smartiest comic performer that I have seen in a long long time, there is just so much to say and so little time. I find that I can’t stop talking about his intended performance of list-telling and observational humor revolving, most impossibly, around the past, present, life, rigor, and generosity, while simultaneously not wanted to give anything away. The well-regarded but bald-headed forty-year-old writer and performer from a small village in the north of England comes out, and false starts, in a way, catching us in a verbal trap of almost pathological tendencies, something akin to an inescapable exercise and presentation of hoarding by the tenacious OCD sufferer who lives next door when all you wanted to do was hand over the mis-delivered piece of mail in your hand.
Easily distracted, the devious monologuist dives forward, making us lean in to catch every brick thrown our way. After giving us plenty of opportunity to escape before the adventure begins, he explains it all to us, in a warning. He describes Keep, currently being performed at St. Ann’s Warehouse, as “not a stand-up comedy show, but neither is it one of the powerful pieces of storytelling theater I have made my own”. It’s also “not shit“, but the challenging lack of spectacle is deliberate and defiantly not quick. He warns us, through a keen eye that sees all (luckily he didn’t see me taking notes, as I am told, later on, that that is a big no-no – nor does he like press, or press photos all that much), that the rhythm of the show requires concentration on our behalf. “What we got to get through” is a timely calculation of compilations presented, without purposeful interruptions. “I didn’t ask for that responsibility” you might wonder, as he explains in detail what is going to happen, and you might even consider sneaking out, but the “Jam Jars – thank you” are worth investing in. This magical stupid idea is an engaging while also being an overly long and winding path through something intoxicatingly perplexing (in a comical sort of way), but also simplistically themed, where small talk relentlessly gets bigger, and the idea, that is at the beginning, something seemingly and completely impossible, starts to vibe with electricity. The radical honesty and significant reveal falters somewhat, losing its spontaneous internal appeal midway. Although suddenly, that narrative collateral isn’t completely careless or cruel, but legit in its sneaky construction, and worthy of our every minute (or 120, if you’re counting). But I’m not telling you another thing. You go, decide, and let me know if you walked out and got a refund, or stayed diligently to the end to find out what all of the Keep-ing was all about. And report back.