After a critically-acclaimed run at Battersea Arts Centre, performance artist Bryony Kimmings brings ‘I’m A Phoenix, Bitch’ to Edinburgh Fringe.
In her provocative, autobiographical performance where she lays herself and the complexity of her emotions bare on stage, it’s a remarkable 80 minutes of powerful and essential theatre.
In the show, Bryony explains how a way to manage trauma is to go back through the narrative of what you’ve been through and make sense of it, and that is exactly what she does on stage. Taking us back to young Bryony in her sparkly ASOS dress and free flowing hair, she slowly takes on the obstacles life is constantly throwing at her and reveals a vulnerability. Moving into her dream cottage with her boyfriend and finally getting the life she dreamed of, after the birth of her son her life suddenly halted.
Kimmings is a commanding performer that takes her own life and explores it on stage in an honest yet theatrical way. She talks to the audience like we are her friends, opening up and delving into her story. Physically, musically and digitally, she picks apart her trauma. How she fell down, then picked herself back up.
It’s changed quite a lot since its original Battersea run, but the power and punch still remains.
Alongside Bryony’s captivating storytelling, her use of technology gives the production another dimension. It’s literally as if we are taken into her mind as we find ourselves trapped inside her head with her. The impressive lighting, projections and video added to the atmosphere that transported you into Bryony’s world.
One thing that really stuck with me was when Bryony talks of when her son Frank stopped having seizures and life returned to ‘normal’. Everyone went back to their daily lives and everyone stopped talking about it. “But I wanted to keep talking about it,” Bryony says. Just because she stopped living through the trauma didn’t mean it suddenly stopped having an effect on her, she was still living through all the pain she had gone through and that is when she had to start building herself back up on her own.
This is a really poignant moment in the show, where she starts lifting weights that gradually gets heavier and whilst telling herself, “I am strong.” That sense of hope she conjures up as she rebuilds her strength is incredibly moving to watch.
I am constantly overwhelmed by the power of theatre and Bryony Kimmings seems to make you feel everything you need to feel and more. It’s harrowing and heart-aching, but totally cathartic. Her authenticity and warmth forms an indescribable connection with the audience and you really do go on that emotional journey with her.
I’m A Phoenix Bitch is an affecting, empowering and courageous production, Bryony completely commits to giving every bit of herself to the audience, proving her to be one of the greatest performance artists of our time.