Review: Intoxication (Before Shot)

Review of May 8 performance.

A powerfully personal performance exploring intimacy and connectedness in the digital age.

Christopher Bryant demonstrated his mastery of storytelling in this highly polished and deeply personal show. Intoxication is a sharp examination of fear and loneliness in a world where we are constantly connected, constantly performing our identity for known and unknown audiences, and constantly grappling with the gaps between our pristine online profiles and our much messier realities.

Sharing the space (and some intense eye contact) with his audience, Bryant skilfully built and relieved tension as he charted his journey through relationships, addiction, anxiety and both physical and emotional trauma after a life-changing accident. Music and physical theatre were used sparingly throughout, particularly to set a new tone and/or to build emotion to a crescendo.

Before the work began in earnest Bryant introduced himself to the audience, seated in a circle of chairs around him, and provided some context for the work he was about to perform. At times during the piece, he spoke directly to an audience member as a stand-in for a character, or sat in the circle alongside us and delivered a stream of consciousness monologue. His eye contact and body language, as well as the polished ease of his delivery, gave the impression that Bryant was in a genuine dialogue with the audience rather than simply switching positions on a stage. This effective use of space brought audiences closer, literally and figuratively, to the performance and its story.

It is one thing to write your vulnerability for an audience, but another skill entirely to personally deliver it with such openness and honesty. Bryant told his story with humour, but rarely in a way that sought to diminish his experience or emotions, and struck a beautiful balance between the personal and the universal. As a millennial of Bryant’s era, I found this work strikingly relatable in its humour as well as its commentary of social media, mental health, creative practice, relationships, and self-doubt.

Intoxication was as confronting as it was captivating, grounded in empathy and an excellent use of space.

Christopher Bryant will perform Intoxication at EC Venue, Fortitude Valley, from May 7-8. Ticketing and further information is available on the event page.

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