Review By: Tatum Stafford
There was a humming anticipation in the air on closing night of Bryony Kimmings’ performance art piece ‘I’m a Phoenix, Bitch’. There was excitement, intrigue and a seemingly collective thought – we had no idea what we were in for.
The premise of this show is simple. In 2016, Bryony lost her house, her partner, part of her child and her mind. Once that striking phrase is uttered as the show begins, it’s clear we’re in for a wild ride.
Without giving too much away, she has been through some particularly harrowing circumstances. And as a seasoned professional on the global theatre circuit, Bryony tackles each hurdle thrown her way with creative genius; enveloping her audience into each chapter of her overwhelming story in a way that feels like she is holding our hand and guiding us along.
Bryony makes excellent use of the Studio Underground space; manoeuvring through her four set pieces and making great use of audio-visual technology to ensure everyone in the theatre has a front row seat to the unravelling of events. A particularly staggering scene is performed with fantastic light and shadow design, as she fights through an imaginary forest, river and fireplace without moving from one spot.
There’s a heavy sadness that underpins this show, but Bryony’s playful personality and abundant care for the audience ensures that we aren’t dragged too far into some of the depths she tragically experienced. We are almost voyeurs to some of her darkest days, but are also emotionally connected with Bryony’s many moments in which she breaks the fourth wall to tell us more.
This piece felt incredibly important, particular as a woman in today’s social climate. The theme of postnatal depression was threaded throughout the play, and brought great awareness to this somewhat taboo subject in open discussions we have about motherhood and mental health. It is positive, however, to learn of Bryony’s recovery and journey to a healthier mindset and life – and provides some additional comfort after learning of some of the awful hardships she endured in one fateful year.
This was a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience that only a celebration such as the Perth Festival could pull off. Traditionally a conservative audience, I felt proud to be among Sunday’s sold out crowd, and believe performances like this are incredibly important, and will continue to resonate with audiences all over the world as the years go on.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.