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Out of Town

The Fascinating St. Ann’s Warehouse’s Keep Surprises in its Delivery of Scheduled Lists

The Fascinating St. Ann’s Warehouse’s Keep Surprises in its Delivery of Scheduled Lists

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.

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Out of Town

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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