This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.
A desk, a chair, the script and a microphone. There is barely enough time to settle into our seats when Christopher Brett Bailey begins his performance, reading the opening gambit of his thesis at lightening speed. It covers modern ills, observations, politics and anything deserving of an opinion. Then the pace relents, but not by much. It morphs into a journey of Chris and his girlfriend, visiting her parents in the countryside: he, literally a walking swastika and she, the strong and silent type. This is where the surrealism drifts in along with witty black humour. And we have barely started.
The delivery, lyricism and poetry within the prose are delightful. Bailey’s performance is strong and balances the dense text with audience engagement, even if he does refer to the text throughout. This places importance on the words themselves and emphasises the show as a written piece. It also lends its weight to the text as a thesis, if not quite a book. The transitions between different segments may not be entirely seamless and it does veer in odd directions once too often. The fluidity of the performance itself does pull it together eventually. And there is always the odd gem in his observations to keep one going. The gentle shift of the lighting subtly underscores the tone and eventually dominates at the coda. The finale is a post rock musical summary, a stirring and powerful mix of strings in the mould of Sigur Ros. It ebbs and flows, it dominates and it probably goes on for a little too long. This perfectly summarises a skilfully performed eclectic mix of ideas and imagery that reflects a healthy cynicism in its world’s view.
Photo Jemima Yong