Sunday, 17 September 2017
Melbourne Fringe: Intoxication
Intoxication is not what it once was. It had other people in it. It was designed and scored. Now it's playwright Christopher Bryant on stage trying to find the heart of the work; trying to find the holes and connections in his own narrative. He writes. He writes a lot. But after the accident it didn't all make sense, if it ever did.
I've seen Bryant’s work before but this production of Intoxication is something altogether different. The lights stay up in the room, the intimate Son of Loft space. He uses a microphone occasionally, though the space doesn't need it. He's close to us on stage and sometimes he makes eye contact and sometimes he's in the audience with us.
This is very much the artist telling us about his life, laying himself on the line. We're listening to his work while contemplating the effort it took him to be there; after the accident there was rehab, the journey back to Australia and then more rehab. He learned to talk again. To walk again. And to write again.
With this kind of show, audience reactions will differ wildly. I watched some embrace the intimacy and others recoil from it. One woman barely looked up at the stage for the entire show; sometimes it was worth just listening to his words, without taking in everything that is happening.
Intoxication is not polished; it's not slick. It's open and honest and Bryant is struggling right now with the plebiscite as it asks the country to vote on the legitimacy of his love life.
There were moments that if the audience had been sitting in the dark, I might have teared up at the honesty about his pain. But if we'd been in the dark, we could have hidden and Bryant doesn't want that. He wants openness and honesty. And in that small room, under bright lights, that's what we got.
Bryant is charming and awkward. The show, intoxicating.
Intoxication is partying with intimacy’s corpse until Sept 22nd.