Daniel Kitson is nothing if not a perfectionist. His latest dramatic monologue cum stand up set performance, Mouse, stars a man who has been working on the same short story for over a decade. He is explaining the story to a mysterious caller, who is also played by Kitson.
It seems Kitson has always been careful not to allow any old thing out into the world. He does not appear on television and any Youtube clips of his stand up are about ten years old. He also allows no interviews or press releases, as all news of his performances are relayed through an email newsletter he writes himself. Before the show begins he assemble the set himself. The stage is cluttered yet somehow sparse: in front of the backdrop which features a door window and ladder, sits Kitson’s unitdy desk and a smaller coffee table.
This setting is disarmingly domestic and mundane, much like the hum drum way in which Kitson’s characters interact, frequently referring to each as ‘mate.’ The play soon moves into deeper emotional territory, however.
It is perhaps fitting that the piece opens in an isolated warehouse where the central character comes to write. Shopping bags in hand, he is already out the door and on the way home when the phone rings. The inquisitive caller on the other end will not reveal his own identity, though he eventually manages to coerce Martin into explaining the story he is working on.
From here the two men embark on a rambling conversation, as they find out they have more than a little in common. Kitson frequently interrupts his characters in order to cajole the audience and interact with his environment. He also serves as narrator, moving the clock forward, and filling us in on how Martin has come to spend his evenings alone at the warehouse.
Two parallel narratives emerge: the man on the other end of the phone will have to get his daughter’s breakfast ready in a few hours time, whereas Martin has lied about having to meet people later that evening. His obsession with his story, which concerns a lonely woman who begins communicating with a mouse.
It soon transpires that the caller dialled his own number and that the two men share the same name, along with a few other characteristics. Soon we see how a whole life can turn on a single moment and single decision. Amid the banter, Kitson craftily meditates on relationships, loneliness, and communication, both external and internal.
When the phone cuts out at the end of the play, the audience feels the sudden emptiness of the stage just as keenly as Kitson’s main character. The choice at the centre of the play is an apparently simple, yet its implications for both characters give it up significant allegorical heft. The play represents choices we all make each day, often without realising it.