Thursday 9 June 2011

Increasingly inebriated

7 Day Drunk, New Wolsey Studio, Ipswich

A girl dressed in what looks like a clown’s outfit – if said clown was tripping on LSD and had somehow realised his hallucinations – slopes onto stage. A sparkling silver champagne bottle stands proudly on her head. Staring at the audience in wide eyed wonder, the girl ‘measures’ out a healthy serving of vodka and downs it in one. She then spews out the vodka in timely cascades – a faltering fountain of alcohol. This is the opening and the essence of Bryony Kimming’s 7 Day Drunk. Only, instead of spitting out vodka, Kimmings plans to churn out art whilst getting increasingly drunk over the course of a week.

One might think this sozzled show is simply a piss-take and that the vodka Kimmings drinks in the opening of 7 Day Drunk, and intends to drink for the rest of the week, is really just water. But this experiment is for real. Kimmings, with the assistance of a dodgy sounding doctor, a therapist and a friendly paramedic, is embarking on a seven day drinking binge. At the end of it, she hopes to have her Edinburgh show.

Despite her contentious concept, which will no doubt frustrate some more sober-minded artistes, Kimmings is actually a charmingly naïve performer. There is something childlike about her unchecked curiosity and slightly slapdash performance style. There is also something touching about her desire to simply create, as if she is a school kid living out a never-ending playtime.

However, as Kimmings’ experiment continues and the alcohol kicks in, the show begins to haze over. Interestingly, the drunker Kimmings gets the more nervous she seems. She repeats her hypothesis – that art and alchol interact in mysterious but persistent ways – with an increasing tinge of desperation, as if repetition will somehow promote authority.

Kimmings explains in detail about the parameters of her experiment: her alcohol intake is to be increased incrementally every day, with the aid of some kind carers, an absent boyfriend and a doctor on call. What is missing though, is any concrete idea of what will be created in this sodden state - the supposed ‘art’ she intends to create. Kimmings is a compelling performed with a distinct style, bursting with contradictions, but she needs to nail down her concept before she gets completely hammered.

[On a final note, should Bryony Kimmings wish to do a joint project – in which an increasingly inebriated critic reviews an Edinburgh show about alcoholism and art -  then she knows who to drunkenly dial.]

Part of the Ipswich fringe festival Pulse, 26 May – 11 June 2011


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