Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight

I suppose how you react to Chris Brett Bailey’s new show Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight, at Contact Manchester, depends on your expectations as you enter the theatre.  If you loved This is How We Die (which I think most people did, review here), you’ll be expecting a text based performance with a degree of very loud music.  If you come in open minded, perhaps expecting gig theatre, you’re probably more prepared for the wall of sound that hits you again and again.

As I write this I’m listening to the Doors 69/70 recording ‘Absolutely Live’ (original vinyl) because although it’s in no way the music referenced in the show (which creates an impenetrable, seething wave), it is a classic rock/poet combination.  Because what Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight lacks is structure; the balance of music and text is for me unsatisfactory.  A brief and competent introductory text is followed by an hour of searing, repetitive music, bookmarked by another piece of text.  Both texts are in Chris Brett Bailey’s trademark ‘beat’ style.  But it’s not Jim Morrison.

Musically this one is driven by Alicia Jane Turner (who performed solo in FLARE, review here). Her soaring violin and clever electronic manipulation of the music set the pace of the show.  Three bespoke instruments, like two dimensional pianos hit by hammers held in their hands, provide a respite from the thunderous guitars and provide interesting texture to the piece.  I have never in my life worn earplugs to a gig or theatre but I did tonight; the noise is painful.  But I had to question why?

Perhaps this show is meant to somehow follow on from This is How We Die.  Perhaps.  Nevertheless, this is a very different show with the focus on the music and not on the text.  But wasn’t it the text that made the last show stand out so clearly, the words and the delivery.  Wasn’t that poetry?  Shouldn’t the words and music build into something that is greater than the sum of their parts?

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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