at Warwick Arts Centre, Tuesday 6th March 2012
Does drink breed creativity? This is the basic question which Briony Kimmings’ 7 Day Drunk poses, creating a piece of theatre which is whimsical, bittersweet and ethereal in equal measure whilst simultaneously attempting to interrogate the effects of alcohol on the artistic mind. Taken as a piece of theatre, it is a bit simple. As a piece of performance art, it is joyous and bizarrely hypnotic.
Kimmings, who also performs the piece, tells us that last July she subjected herself to a 7-day experiment which required her to drink a certain amount of alcohol each day, building up each time, whilst creating ‘pieces of art’ for her show. These were then showcased before an audience who rated how ‘good’ they were, and what we see before us is a mixture of all this labour and a journey to finding the answer to the question originally posed.
There is a lot more artistry here than is initially evident; at first glance, Kimmings is simply regurgitating the art she created whilst drunk, but in actual fact it takes great skill to edit 168 hours of raw material and choose the bits to put in front of an audience. The pieces chosen have a very rudimentary narrative; bookended by two songs, there are moments of dance and reflection about the stories of loved ones. We experience the same rollercoaster ride of emotions which often takes place during our own inebriated experience.
Kimmings’ performance is extraordinarily observed. Obviously, she is playing herself, but it is no mean feat to pull off an effective and believable state of drunkeness. It is clear the drunken videos of her have been watched over and over again, as her recreation of these moments is extraordinarily nuanced, whilst during ‘sober’ moments, she makes us want to join in with and befriend her. The dream-like, magical atmosphere evoked is one not far off the world of Noel Fielding.
Reciting the conclusion of Kimmings’ study would be giving the game away, but the beauty of 7 Day Drunk is that even when that fact is deployed, we are left to make up our own minds, meaning the piece never becomes an educational lecture. In this case, it is clear the alcohol involved wasn’t wholly the maker of this art; the skill behind this piece has come post-experiment, and if it wasn’t for Kimmings’ kooky playfulness, there would be nothing of note to show.