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Stories for the Wobbly Hearted

There had been too many times when she had met someone, liked them, got on with them, invested a bit of time and emotional weight, only for it to transpire that this person was in fact a twerp. And as Poppy got older and a little less twerp tolerant she opted out of 'meeting people' and placed herself instead at the end of a series of clues.

Loneliness is a little bit heroic. At least it is in the eyes of Daniel Kitson, whose one man show at 59 East 59 is a part of the jam-packed Brits off Broadway showcase. Kitson, a reputable stand-up comedian in his homeland, has ventured across the pond to tell tales the solitary soul on his Island.

In fact, Kitson armchair travels to America. He comfortably sits in a large chair in this tiny black box theatre, amidst a multitude of television sets, a record player and four lamps. His heavily bearded face is dimly lit, and once he finds the remote control, short, lonely images are displayed on the television screens.

The title of each story, formed by letters on a scrabble board, begins the "televised" sequences. Far more interesting are the five stories Kitson commences to tell. In an evening of tales that would be as welcome at a Moth storytelling Event as it is at the theatre, Kitson weaves yarns about how loneliness is "not the worst thing imaginable."

First up is the story of Ben, a bored insomniac who challenges himself to watch each of his Satellite TV channels for over five minutes. After passing by two reruns of Animal Planet, He finally happens upon a live broadcast of an elderly man sitting silently in front of a telephone. Ben finally reaches out to this man and they have a good, friendly chat, after which the man receives more and more calls -- and Ben is relieved to have finally reached out to someone.

Kitson himself seems to be a true introvert with an extraordinarily sharp wit that begs to be shared. His alliterative phrases express his romantic vision of the lonely hearted. His heavy Barnsley accent and penchant for speaking rapidly plus the dim lighting threaten to loose the attention of an American audience. Persistence, however, pays off, and Kitson's nerdish charm will leave the quick listener enthralled.

Ben's story is followed by the delightful tale of Poppy, an Amelie-like character who leaves whimsical surprises for her neighbors in lieu of meeting them. Poppy is always disappointed by other people, but finally puts aside her judgmental outlook to welcome a stranger. Three other tales continue in this vein -- one about overcoming loneliness to find love, one about a lonely breakup and another about a solitary musician at a tube station, who has rules for the passerby, including: "No stopping, no donations, no requests, and no heavy petting."

Although all the tales have an adolescent-cool flavor to them, they have the lasting impact of moralistic tales. With such a delightful and original mind, lets hope that Kitson ventures further from his lonely island to share his fun and memorable tales.

Stories for the Wobbly Hearted
Written and Performed by Daniel Kitson
Running time: 80 minutes
Brits off Broadway, 59E59,(212) 279-4200
From 6/13/06 to 6/28/06
Tuesday- Saturday at 8:30 pm, Sunday at 3:30 pm.
Tickets: $25
Reviewed by Liza Zapol based on 6/14/06, 8pm performance

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