One of my theatre highlights of last year was Analog.ue by Daniel Kitson at the National Theatre. I admit to not knowing who Kitson was, being unaware of his stand up comedy work or previous writing. After being so impressed by Analog.ue I was therefore very excited to experience another production by him. Staged in September 2013 at the Manchester Royal Exchange, this is the London premiere run of Tree, a play I knew very little about before seeing it yesterday. Analog.ue was even more enjoyable because it was somewhat of a mystery beforehand and this was certainly the same for Tree.
Staged within the cosy theatre-in-the-round configuration currently at the Old Vic, Tree is a two-handed play between two men, played by Tim Key and Kitson himself. One (Key) arrives by a tree on a quiet residential street with a picnic hamper, apparently late for a date. He is in fact early and soon has a surreal way to pass the time – by engaging in conversation with a man sitting up the tree (Kitson)!
Talking too much about what they discuss would give too much away, but over the 90 minutes their conversation sees each tell the other a story – one how he met his date and the other why he is up a tree! Kitson’s writing is yet again a joy. He manages to write a story that is incredibly witty, funny, moving and challenging and it is through these stories that we as an audience, as well as the characters themselves, find ourselves thinking about the choices we may make in our lives and the nature of commitment.
Tree is also superbly acted by both men, as Tim Key and Kitson spar and bounce off each other effortlessly as the dialogue pings back and forth. As with Analog.ue, it all feels very believable and very human. These really could be people you may meet (although in a strange scenario if one was up a tree at the time!) and it was a pleasure to spend time in their world.
Initially due to end yesterday, further performances have now been added for later this month and I urge you to go along if you have the time (plus top price tickets are only £16). It will make you smile, laugh and think about aspects of everyday life in a new way. I’ll certainly never miss a Kitson production from now on!
Additional performances of Tree at the Old Vic between 16 – 22nd February 2015 are now on sale. Further details can be found here.