Theatre review: Bryony Kimmings: I’m a Phoenix, Bitch Pleasance Courtyard
Bryony Kimmings: I’m a Phoenix, Bitch Pleasance Courtyard * * * * *
Her extraordinary new show raises the bar considerably; it’s the best thing she’s ever done.
It begins with a B-movie spoofing dance sequence, a previously-on-Bryony recap of all her shows to date, and a funny song about entrapping the boyfriend with a cooked breakfast. And then, once we’re sitting comfortably, she plunges headfirst into the darkness and doesn’t emerge for another hour, as she shares a raw, gripping tale of a fragmenting relationship, a critically ill child, and her own experience of depression and PTSD.
And then, just as you’re reeling from that, Kimmings outdoes herself with a startling reveal that would be more at home at the EIF than the Fringe.
Kimmings has always been a skilful, self-aware writer and performer, brimming with playful ideas. I’m a Phoenix, Bitch showcases a new depth and maturity. She describes it as “Arts Council-funded therapy”, a self-deprecating joke that is way too modest; as a performer she puts herself through a wringer in this intense 90-minute show, but she handles her own story – and her portrayal of others, especially Tim, her ex and the father of her child – with the utmost care. If creating this kind of work is a high-wire act, Kimmings is the greatest show-woman in town; anyone planning to make theatre about their own mental health should see I’m a Phoenix, Bitch, and watch and learn.
For her sake, though, I hope she never has to make a show like this one again.
Until 25 August