Bryony Kimmings: I'm A Phoenix, Bitch
- Rachel Baker
- 7 August 2019
Arresting one woman show depicting an astonishing recovery from mental illness
In this intimate yet epic solo, Bryony Kimmings describes a journey of salvation from the depths of depression and psychosis to recovery and acceptance. I'm a Phoenix, Bitch is a 90-minute declaration of one woman's innermost demons, both terrifying, analytical and perfectly crafted.
The set is scattered with sheets covering small set pieces to represent moments in Kimmings' life which she revisits to embark upon recovery. Kimmings uses these and a video camera to perform satirical musical numbers that range from hilarious to heartbreaking. From film noir to scenes that evoke The Blair Witch Project, these tunes skillfully enlighten moments which contributed to her eventual undoing. The filmic allusions bring each personal memory to a relatable level, and Kimmings' is utterly compelling in her delivery of these stylistic performances.
As each scene goes by, what started as a scathing but light-hearted, satire, becomes a dark exploration of female insecurities. The show's climax consists of striking movement pieces and stunning projection, depicting Kimmings' psychotic episode as something out of a horror movie. Her focus on the terror that comes with severe mental illness effectively removes any risk of fetishising the subject. Relentless in its honesty and exquisite in its artistry, this cinematic response to her own mental state is devastatingly memorable. It is astonishing that she is able to continue.
I'm a Phoenix, Bitch is a remarkable testament to resilience. Kimmings' brave surrender of her own life to the stage illustrates that to experience mental suffering is to also undertake a transformative journey. Steeped in honesty and made with impeccable skill, this is a glorious piece of theatre that demands to be seen.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug (not 12), 5.30pm, £15–£17 (£14–£16).