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This Is How We Die

  • Theatre, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
'This Is How We Die'
Jemima Yong'This Is How We Die'

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Christopher Brett Bailey's monologue is rapid, existential, surreal and goose bump-inducing.

This review is from June 2015; 'This is How We Die' returns for five shows at Ovalhouse around Hallowe'en in 2019.

Here’s fair warning: definitely don’t watch Christopher Brett Bailey’s ‘This Is How We Die’ on any kind of drugs. There’s a real chance you might explode. The Canadian’s extraordinary motor-mouth monologue music piece is an annihilation of the senses. His rapid, funny and surreal narrative messes with your head before his exceptionally loud music messes with your heart – vibrating your entire body until you think your vital organ may have missed a beat.

You don’t need artificial stimulants anyway: ‘This Is How We Die’ is enough of a trip. From the moment Brett Bailey stomps on to the stage to sit at a table with a microphone and reads from pages of a script, it’s transfixing: a fast stream of irony, barbed words and fucked-up narratives. He tells of an intensely visual, often smilingly brutal magical realist journey through England and America. There are hilarious tangents – when someone tells him to go fuck himself he tries it, swapping out of his and her roles in a twisted solo duet. He creates weird, impossible characters: his girlfriend’s dad is a walking swastika, literally shaped into one after a car crash; her mum is the strong silent type, a bodybuilder with her mouth stapled together.

‘This Is How We Die’ is a lot of things, but what I took away most was its riff on the way we use language, its signifiers and its cliches. Brett Bailey’s imagery is minutely constructed and each syllable is important, which is shown in the way that, despite the speed, not one word is thrown away. But it’s also a cut-through-the-bullshit rant against The Man and meaningless modern crap like phones. It’s not superior or condescending, it’s often really, really funny, like a Hunter S Thompson novel but, perhaps more scary, without the acid. Brett Bailey’s many other references are clear too, you can spot Beckett, Burroughs and JG Ballad as well.

Just as you begin to wonder where his tale is leading, you realise words won’t do anymore and in the darkness behind the back lights on stage, music starts up, performed by musicians we can’t see. Poignant at first it rises into an intense bittersweet mess of noise that will wobble everything in your body. It’s very, very loud and very, very desolate. An intense, roller-coaster ride of feeling that will leave you, quite literally, reeling.

Written by
Daisy Bowie-Sell


£16, £10 concs
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