Kissing The Shotgun Goodnight by Christopher Brett Bailey
Contact, Manchester [04.10.17]
‘This is a hell dream… This is a hell dream… This is a hell dream’
…it sure is.
Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight is a piece of music theatre blended with spoken word poetry. As an ex poet, I thought this would be right up my alley. I should have known that things would not bode well when encouraged by four people to put ear plugs in because this was going to get loud. Now is probably a good time to say that noise was most certainly not the problem.
This piece begins with three overhead lights glaring at the audience. We can see the outline and shadows of a multitude of amps in the darkness on stage. Spoken word emerges into the space. This is an unconventional approach to sharing spoken word but I’m not entirely sold on having the words and nothing else. If this were a radio piece, sure, yeah, but in the theatre, it just wasn’t doing it for me.
I was hopeful though as a women with a violin walked out on stage. The lights dimmed and settled on her. The control and passion she played with was compelling and began to draw me in. However, this connection was quickly lost due to the barrage of noise that followed. As an ex SLT student, I’m really not a fan of referring to sound as noise but in this case, I will make an exception. There is a point at which sounds are so loud that they pulsate through you and it gives you as je ne sais quoi kind of feeling. However, surpassing that perfect point leads to a loss of meaning and feeling like you have the worst headache (and not in an artistic, i’m reflecting kind of way). What follows is a multilayered sandwich of noise and ominous spoken word that feels rather artificial.
Sitting through this reminded of a brief stint I had working in a factory near Byker. I was packing Dove for Men Christmas gift sets, all day, non-stop with a scratched Atomic Kitten album playing in the background. Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight is not as bad as this Atomic Kitten album, however I came out of this performance feeling the same way I did after my first (and only) day of working in the factory: tired, uninspired and switched off.