Seated beneath a single, hanging lantern, at a rudimentary desk occupied by his laptop, award-winning English monologist Daniel Kitson spins a tale of urban intrigue in A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological Order (★★), now at Studio Theatre.
The material comes from his investigation into arguments within a neighborhood anti-automobile group based in South London. It’s a subject astutely chosen for the performer’s debut in D.C., where municipal life can appear to be governed on a neighborhood to neighborhood basis, and citizens battle out internecine disagreements in local commissions and listserv threads.
Kitson cites as inspiration his random sighting of a ghost bike on a street corner, a poignant image that transcends localities. Everywhere bikes, pedestrians, and cars dart and dodge, there are passionate urbanites who get involved in trying to even the scales for one side or the other. The emotion Kitson taps into — through a detailed, sardonic excavation of a case of anti-automobile vandalism — is genuine, even if his humorous approach lacks sincerity in the delivery.
Wielding punchy and profane punchlines, Kitson has brought along muffled recordings of voicemail messages, and a projector to exhibit barely legible slides of the angry missives that constitute much of his investigation. A few quips that the audience is witnessing an ongoing reconstruction of the titular events only highlight the performer’s unsure command of the show’s direction.
The story skitters across two hours from slides to recordings, to rifling through files and photos, frequently stumbling, despite Kitson’s ease with the audience. There’s charm in the performer’s individuality and empathy, but charm alone can’t work the magic of shaping an affecting comic narrative. —Andre Hereford
A Short Series of Disagreements runs to November 25 at the Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St., NW. Tickets are $25. Call 202-332-3300, or visit StudioTheatre.org.
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