Review: 7 Day Drunk, by Bryony Kimmings

I’d arranged to meet a friend one evening last week, but we hadn’t made any specific plans when we put the date in our diaries. I’d not really thought about what we could do, so just assumed that an evening spent chatting over drinks was probably on the cards. However, my friend had a much better boozy suggestion. One of the Soho Theatre’s current offerings is a one-woman show by the fantastic Bryony Kimmings and I was somewhat intrigued by the blurb:

7 Day Drunk is a show created by Bryony Kimmings during a 7 day alcohol experiment, inspired by the historical links between artists and mind enhancing drugs. Monitored and helped by scientists, carers, IT experts and a film maker, Bryony is spending her week making art in varying states of intoxication to beg the question, ‘Is Alcohol really linked to Creativity?’

Having booked tickets and heard a few people rave about the performance on Twitter, we showed up in time to secure seats near the front and grab a couple of drinks. A very easy to spot Bryony was approaching female audience members at this point with party poppers and what appeared to be the most serious discussion you can have whilst wearing a jumpsuit Vince Noir would be proud of. The purpose of this would all become clear later, but the outfit gave us all a little glimpse of what was to come. However, I don’t think any of us could have imagined the full extent of that.

We were treated to songs, monologues, explanations, videos and stories, all delivered from a woman wearing increasingly amusing and bizarre costumes. The show contained some very serious elements where Bryony spoke about what alcohol can do – without either glorifying or preaching – and also many wonderful moments where she shared performances she’d come up with during her week-long booze experiment. At one point, the women who had been given party poppers were asked to stand up so that Kimmings could see if one of them would be willing to get as drunk during the show as she was during the week when she created it. I bowed out the moment I heard just how many shots of vodka this would require but a volunteer was obtained, breathalysed and then presented with a Poundland princess cup full of vodka cranberry.

I reckon that, like me, many other people in the audience recognised some of their own drunken behaviour in Kimmings’ boozy antics. She is a wonderfully engaging performer whose personality drives the show forward at every stage, and she has captured the essence of many nights out in a splendidly ridiculous format. From the description, some may think that the show would be a warning against the dangers of drink, but it’s simply one woman’s glitter covered story – the audience are taken on a wild ride and then left to draw their own conclusions. There are many questions left unanswered, but I had so much fun that I really didn’t care! What stood out for me was that the entire thing, no matter how silly it got, was performed entirely sober. Surely this proves that it’s possible to have a good time without alcohol? Well, as long as you leave your inhibitions behind.

Bryony Kimmings’ 7 Day Drunk is on at the Soho Theatre until 31st March 2012.