Daniel Kitson’s Analog.ue at the National Theatre

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This week I experienced my first Daniel Kitson performance. Much more than just a theatre performance Analog.ue is part theatrical performance and part art installation and is indeed something you truly experience rather than simply watch. For this latest show Kitson weaves together memories from the past with the present, which beautifully reminded me of the power of memory and how important memories of our past will be to us as we grow older or to those who come after us, offering them a glimpse in to a time long past.

Analog.ue tells us two separate but interlinked stories. One is of 77 year old Thomas Livingstone, who after years of pestering from his wife, is spending a day in his garage recording memories of his life on to tape, across the many machines his wife has bought him over their years together. The other is that of call centre worker Trudy, who after finding a portion of Thomas’s story as a child, has spent her life hoping she’ll learn more about the life she has listened to on a small section of tape for 30 years.

In this digital age, Kitson’s method of highlighting the past is brought to life through analogue tape recordings in a unique way that was wonderful to watch unfold.

Photo via Candatti

Just like Thomas in his story, Kitson has recorded his tale across 46 tape recorders, of various sizes and ages, purchased from junk shops and the internet and he spends the 90 minute show silently walking across the darkened stage, carrying the machines in to position, connecting the wires to the master operating desk and setting them to play in sync with the previous machine so the story (almost) seamlessly unfolds across the machines. The audience is also given a glimpse in to Kitson’s thoughts about creating the show through recording and slides. It’s interesting that he spends the whole time speaking to the audience but barely utters a word live. 

The experience is incredibly moving as we piece together the stories tape by tape, which are full of intricate everyday details, superbly described, that make the images come alive in your mind as you listen and by the end I felt very touched by the power of the past and had been reminded how much we should all cherish our own memories. It wasn’t clear when, but if Mr Kitson does one day give away the machines used for this production as he suggests, scattering them and his story around the country, if I ever see an old tape recorder for sale with the tape inside I may just have to buy it, as it may contain a snippet of this wonderful achievement and even if it doesn’t who knows what glimpses in to the past I may find.

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