Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight***+ (Ovalhouse)

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Theatre

kissing-the-shotgunThis review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

Christopher Brett Bailey is one of those theatre makers who does not make things easy for his audiences. His show This is How We Die, which toured the UK a couple of years back, pummelled us with weird ideas and anecdotes delivered at breakneck speed and ended with a loud performance by a rock band. Here, how we die again features highly, but the music takes on the prominent role in what could be described as a rock symphony in five movements, the fourth of which is spoken.

“This is a Hell dream” we hear repeatedly as the show begins in near darkness. If so, it is a dream to wake the neighbours.Think AC/DC or Metallica and then treble the volume. We are told that the decibel level reaches the equivalent of an aeroplane taking off and, mercifully, ear plus are provided if needed. Alicia Jane Turner and George Percy are the composer-musicians along with Brett Bailey.

With lighting designed by Lee Curran, the team creates the theatrical equivalent of an abstract painting. asking each individual audience member to make of it what they will, putting a shotgun to our heads and urging us to pull the trigger. The coordination of sound and lighting is highly complex and it has to be said, in fairness to all, that the performance being reviewed suffered from a major technical glitch, resulting in a lengthy unplanned interval. As the creators’ intent is to project a continuous flow of aural and visual images, building cumulatively, the break was unfortunate.

The spoken section begins in total darkness with the disembodied voice of Brett Bailey reciting a magnificently morbid poem that gives further context to the music. We are seated in crouch position on a plane seconds before it crashes, we lie helpless in a hospital bed connected to a network of tubes and we are tormented by a parasite growing inside us. “A suicide note is tattooed on your throat” the echoing voice warns. A Hell dream indeed and, after 70 minutes or so of being face-to-face with our own mortality, we wake to reflect on the horrors of the real world.

Performance date:7 October 2016


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