A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological Order
Studio Theatre offers up a very unconventional solo show.
Imagine the voice of a person you know who speaks faster than anyone else you know. Then double that speed. You're roughly approaching the pace at which Daniel Kitson delivers his uncommon new work, A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological Order, at Studio Theatre. The first thing to be said about Kitson is that he is sui generis, to the point where he seems to have such a distaste for conventional theater that the audience is offered no program for this show and no information about the performer or the play. Kitson's storytelling style is an improbable brew of agitation and endless details mingled with delightfully arch, absurd modern irony. There is not so much a plot in A Short Series as there is a yarn about a road Kitson likes to bike along, Milkwood Road, where one day he saw an ambulance and a woman lying on the ground. Kitson is sure the woman winked at him.
From there, he is off and running at breakneck speed into a two-hour-long description of how he finds out who the woman is, how he learns that she's dead, and how he becomes obsessed by what he believes to have been her life, including a club to which she belonged. He gets control of and organizes the club's papers to learn everything he believes to be the truth about this mysterious dead woman.
But like most monologues and stories, A Short Series is also not remotely about the events that Kitson tells the audience. It's about Kitson himself and his ability to express himself in unique ways, such as when he says he judged something to have "a willful pomposity" that he found "adorable." That's pure Kitsonian rhetoric. He offers plenty of details about himself during the show and makes the most of the in-the-moment aural and audience oddities that occur during performances.
The physical production backs up the quirky and raw feel of the storytelling. The Metheny Theatre is stripped bare to its concrete back wall and a large circle of parquet wood occupies the middle of the stage. A table and chair are placed downstage. Kitson, sitting behind the table, uses a remote control to move through a series of slides placed in a carousel on a smaller table, a setting that feels familiar to those who have witnessed shows by monologists like Mike Daisey and Spalding Gray. Kitson himself is credited with set design, lighting design, and costume design (he wears casual slacks, a shirt, and a baseball cap).
At its end, the final architecture of A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological Order makes sense, with all of Kitson's seemingly disconnected photos and slides becoming related. Through this, he is forced to realize that all his research and conclusions about life and death are wrong. Ultimately, Kitson admits that he couldn't "identify the perimeter" of his own ignorance. But for those who take the time to observe his remarkable feat at Studio Theatre, he certainly identifies the perimeter of his humor, his stamina, and his humanity.