BRYONY KIMMINGS: I’M A PHOENIX, BITCH | Edinburgh Fringe 2019

People need this stuff. Bryony Kimmings is a likeable, self-professed “nutter”, telling a story that is not told often enough. No spoilers, but you should go and see this show if you’re a straight woman, a parent, or anyone who has suffered loss — these are probably the audience members who were standing up as they applauded at the end.

Handling painful, autobiographical subject matter, Kimmings assures us at the beginning that we are safe, and she is safe, because she has worked through her shit before making art about it, and this feels entirely, gloriously true. Yet there is a downside in the resulting piece: she seems somewhat detached from the emotions she is acting out, instead of finding them live, as the first-class performance artist she is.

It would be dangerous for Kimmings to get lost in it every night, but her necessary, temporary, partial detachment is combined with a highly polished structure and well-scripted text, which perhaps leaves her too artistically safe. NOTE: it is not safe to be a woman making an honest piece about extreme mental health issues; this is why we need this show.

Whoever you are, the stunning set and increasingly innovative visuals (David Curtis-Ring) will consistently thrill and engage you. Kimmings deserves the full house and the standing ovations, for her truth, her grit, her beautiful staging, and her song about a fry-up that is no less than comic genius.

Playing 5:30pm in the Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August 2019.

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