Brighton Festival 2016
A motor-mouthed collage of spoken word and storytelling. Tales of paranoia, young love and ultra-violence. From the desk of Christopher Brett Bailey comes a spiralling odyssey of pitch-black humour and nightmarish prose.
With echoes of Lenny Bruce, William Burroughs, beat poetry and B-movies, This Is How We Die is a prime slice of surrealist trash, an Americana death trip and a dizzying exorcism for a world convinced it is dying…
Christopher Brett Bailey’s This is How We Die is not your usual piece of theatre. A monologue that is ceaselessly spoken for 50 minutes at a quite incredible pace, this torrent of words is both utter nonsense and contains far too many truths about humanity for comfort.
Bailey sits at a desk, illuminated from behind, his face partly in shadow, as he reads from his script. From the very first word he speaks it is clear that this is no ordinary monologue – he is talking five times faster than anyone should, and the audience have to race to keep up with him. You are aware that you are missing things, but not entirely sure how much it matters.
The story is fragmented, surreal and in turns incredibly dark and incredibly funny. At one point he recounts how someone told him to go fuck himself, and what follows is an extended, absurd and hilarious description of how he went about doing that – right down to taking himself out for dinner.
This is pulsating, epic poetry, and despite his speed, Bailey’s delivery is flawless – no nuance or emotion going untapped. He takes these marvelous, almost shrieking breaths which punctuate the words as if they had meaning in their own right.
If this was all the show was – 50 minutes of complex and entirely mad poetry, taking you on a journey through the London underground, via a smoking mouse, to a gas station in the US desert where a man gets brutally decapitated – then you would not be disappointed. However, the final ten minutes of the show deliver something entirely unexpected the likes of which I have never seen before in theatre.
With a final, accurate, yet bleak spittle of words, where he describes humans as ‘an arrogant hex of a species, fixated on their own demise’, Bailey gets up, and disappears into the blackness of the stage beyond. The audience are then drowned in the most incredible noise imaginable – screaming violins competing with electric guitars that are all distortion. It is not music, it is barely sound – instead it is sensation, and it goes on and on and on, the most incredible counterpoint to the barrage of prose – everything that went before obliterated by this visceral, reverberating noise.