In a small, sparse room near the top of Raj House, Christopher Bryant gave a similarly stripped-down rendition of his Midsumma Festival play, Intoxication. The show is a raw autobiographical examination of Bryant's crippling anxiety, alcohol addiction and emotional and physical trauma.
It's a very direct show; he actually began with a brief on the reading of the drama. Bryant also frequently holds eye contact with you, sits down next to you, or leans up against the wall to speak with you. It almost feels like he's invited us out for cocktails and an oddly articulate chat about past boyfriends. It's an atmosphere that works well with the content, and Bryant's fluid prose candidly exposes his most vulnerable thoughts through a tumultuous search for indentity, self-worth and love. His confident and eloquent performance — he is a NIDA scriptwriting post-grad, after all — takes us through the loneliness of an unrequited relationship, the gnawing self-doubt from a cuckolding partner, and the journey through addiction, trauma and mental illness to a renewed sense of self-worth and a chance at real love.
Bryant could perhaps rethink his diversion into the political sphere, with an unfortunate old joke about global warming, but his reaction to last year's plebiscite comes from a very personal perspective. It would work better if more deftly written into his chronological narrative. Some might also find his fascinating directness a tad confronting, and might wish to sit further back in the seats.
Intoxication is an wonderfully honest piece of theatre that anyone with half a heart will enjoy. It's sublimely written, cleverly adapted from a larger production, and offers an unabashed look at the darker side of love in a modern age.