The first line of the programme sheet declares “Bryony Kimmings is NOT an alcoholic” but as the production commences with Kimmings, dressed in an all-in-one silver space suit, raving outrageously and throwing things across the stage, this was certainly to be debated.
Kimmings’s most recent project, which is presented throughout the evening, does exactly what it says on the…bottle. For seven days straight, she is drunk. She consumes the equivalent of 11 shots of vodka for breakfast every morning and is constantly breathalysed by members of her care team to ensure that she maintains this optimum level of inebriation.
The evening’s engaging, at times disgusting, performance combines Kimmings’s on-stage theatrics, film snippets from her seven days of being smashed, stories of her childhood, self-written songs, audience participation and the odd bit of pyromania. “But what is the aim of all this?” I hear you ask; to answer the question: “Is alcohol good for creativity?”
As I sat in the audience at the Soho theatre, I was torn between watching the hugely entertaining myriad of mayhem on stage and staring at the ground to avoid being elected to be part of the chaos. Despite my relief at not being chosen, I felt sorry for Cara, the poor audience member who volunteered herself for the evening’s experiment. Little did she know when she first put herself forward that she would be reliving Kimmings’s experience and having to down an awful concoction of cranberry juice and vodka, which contained a considerable amount more of the latter. While watching her try to stomach this “rank” combination, I couldn’t help but think that Kimmings was in some way promoting the binge drinking culture which our country is fighting so hard to prevent.
Social politics aside, the show provided a captivating and amusing look at the impacts of alcohol on individual creativity. The songs “wipe my bum, I’m a f***ing artist” and “I drink, therefore I am” – of which I’m sure Descartes would be proud – are hardly likely to enter the charts any time soon yet they provide a true insight into Kimmings’s witty and fantastically outgoing personality.
In fact, her personality shines through in every aspect of the production, including her bold and bizarre outfits. They may not live up to this year’s Olivier Award nominations for Best Costume Design but, considering the state of intoxication in which they were created, you have to give her some credit.
So, is alcohol good for creativity? Well, in this case, yes! Seven Day Drunk undeniably constitutes an exceptional evening of entertainment. However, having seen the resulting hangover, I wouldn’t recommend hitting the bottle in an attempt to be creative to anyone else.