Gentle Den


Surrounded by the detritus of a dozen basement dens, Daniel Kitson slouches in a cast-off armchair and unfolds stories of loneliness. A lumpish man, attired in spectacles, shiny shirt, and wide tie, with thinning ginger hair above and thickening beard below, Kitson speaks in genial tones, a bit prone to mumble and snuffle, as though someone has spiked his Bovril with novocaine. He introduces Maurice, who plays guitar in public with his face turned to the wall; Ben, whose main social interaction is via satellite television; and Poppy, who leaves clues about town in the hopes that they’ll be found by like-minded strangers. The heavily narrated tales contain few characters and little dialogue, but they’re absorbing. With his curmudgeon appearance and episode titles such as “Being Around Other People Isn’t the Cure for Loneliness, It’s the Cause,” one suspects that Kitson’s own view of humanity may be rather similar to Poppy’s, who likens people to the stock of her local DVD shop: “No one can argue with the comprehensive range. But it’s going to take ages to shift through the shit and find anything of genuine quality.” Nevertheless, the stories invariably betray a surprising streak of sympathy, even gentleness. Even his saddest sacks earn happyish endings.