Photo – Jamie Williams
Christopher Brett Bailey sits at his desk reading from papers, like a newsreader. He resembles a young David Lynch with the top button of his shirt done up and his hair severely combed over.
He begins at full throttle as if calling a horse race. Leaving spaces in a sentence describing his delivery style does it an injustice. When he does eventually pause, the silence hangs heavy in the air.
Bailey says in interviews that his style is not strictly “spoken word”. He combines stand-up comedy and storytelling and punctuates his yarns with observation of how the English language is a form of containment. In our language, Ideas are reduced to “isms” while political correctness keeps our words sanitised. His stories take place in the here and now of modern rural America, morphing into surrealism much like the afore mentioned Lynch. A mouse puts its cigarette out while a neo-Nazi rants in a dinner table scene which could be straight from Lynch’s Eraserhead.
Bailey is a theatre maker and noise musician who was born in Canada, raised in the US and is now based in the UK. Bailey kept two Journals, one full of stories, poems, jokes and pieces of music. The other was free writing. This Is How We Die combines writing from both journals. The first draft was four hours long, so he cut it down with the help of a dramaturge. His influences are William Burroughs and Kanye West. The rap influence is hardly surprising because, like many spoken word artists, he often uses Hip-Hop rhythms in his delivery. Bailey also acknowledges the David lynch influence on his hair style.
I was wondering why the ushers were handing out earplugs as we took our seats for a spoken word performance. They are certainly needed for finale that is disconnected and lack purpose. Many in the audience covered their ears and there were even a few walkouts. A disappointing end to a surreal and often funny show.
Go see it if you are in the mood for something quirky or have ever wondered what David Lynch would be like calling a horse race. Just remember those ear plugs.
2016 Sydney Festival
This is How We Die
Christopher Brett Bailey
Venue: Bay 17 | Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street (Corner of Codrington Street) Eveleigh
Dates: 20 – 24 January 2016
Bookings: 1300 723 038 | www.sydneyfestival.org.au