If Gregory Church had known it would take decades to write 30,000 suicide notes, he might have planned things a little differently on the first day. That darkly comical irony becomes clear about halfway through Daniel Kitson’s energetic 90-minute monologue, The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church. This shaggy British raconteur freely admits that the “vast majority” of his wry, improbable tale is “made up”—but he nonetheless reports every detail with the moral conviction of a local vicar.
Pacing the St. Ann’s stage-in-the-round, Kitson recalls discovering boxes of letters belonging to the late (fictional) Mr. Church while house-hunting. From these epistles the narrator builds a hypothetical biography: Thanks to the Royal Mail’s efficiency, the misanthropic Gregory Church swiftly receives caustic replies to his initial 56 suicide notes, distracting the truculent letter writer with decades-long exchanges. The story has few sharp edges and Kitson works the crowd too hard—at times it feels like we’re watching a busker ply his trade in a public square. But this irrepressible performer also has a way of savoring unexpected words like “spurious” with shady inflections, drawing them out for effect in his thick Yorkshire accent. And when he does, this unraveling yarn holds undeniable pleasures.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2011