A table with neatly lined-up paper awaits Christopher Brett Bailey at the Large Committee Room at the Shoreditch Town Hall. The microphone amplifies his welcoming humming noise.

 Suicide Notes invites the audience into casual, atmospheric verbal vomit scenarios between thinking-out-loud poetry and a staging of merges of memories, fiction and stories inspired, imagined and triggered by real life scenarios. This show is different every night as Brett Bailey chooses only a handful of his prepared stories and mixes them with explanations and improvisations to bond with the present audiences.

On the last day in London he shares his thoughts on gender performance, fluidity and identity interwoven into a humorous hook-up story with Adam, the first man on earth. He navigates the audience through his lines of witty wordplays and self-ironic revelations while expressing awareness of the performative situation of the textual delivery and his profession of being a performer and entertainer in daily life. The punchlines of his stories are accurately bittersweet and cleverly thought-provoking through a twisted and thus fresh shift in daily perception of bagatelles and fixed viewpoints. Throughout the evening, his stories become darker and desperate. The humorous tone occasionally breaks and reveals an existentialist view on life and death. His wittiness nevertheless is a constant companion even through the darker paths of Brett Bailey’s mind. Suicide as a political and ethical protest does not survive life cycles, but dismantles life as the precious but precarious self-absorption as it is. The end remarks a pre-post-humanistic view on life. The last humans tear down the planet by focussing on the present moment of temporary aliveness and permanent disappearance which concludes earlier thoughts on the present which is ‘dissolving too fast’ within the linear timeframe of the dominant past and future in daily life.

Bailey performs words and their sounds, as “he is a voice-box and a microphone and nothing more”. Language is floating through prepared and improvised thinking-out-loud fragments of texts to introduce his brilliantly twisted mind to the audiences. The self transforms into a projection screen of an intertextual conversation of voices filtered through Brett Baileys convincingly colourful and confident self-presentation as the reflective, creative and intelligent artist he is. His skilful use of the resources of a writer and stand-up-comedian is overall convincing and exciting: presence, power of observation and humour to walk between witty improvisation and immersive stories to connect with the audience.

His self-reference and meta-performance focusses not on the self-expression of his thoughts, but on the materialisation of his words through their delivery of sound, performance and content for the audience. The bridge to the audience is established from the first second of his show until the self-dissolving end of Suicide Notes. The grounding in the present moment of the performance as a casual togetherness is the most important ingredient of his show and responsible for its success. However, the immersive effect of his storytelling could be reinforced by involving the audience in the decision-making of the thought-line of the evening’s show. Furthermore, the play with speed and sound of the words’ delivery can even be more explored and thus colliding in this rollercoaster-ride of language and its life.

Suicide Notes is a must see for poetry and storyteller fanatics who find themselves occasionally on the darker side of the glass-is-half-full-philosophy, but also would be of interest for spoken word fans who enjoy a committed and driven ride through the playground of language, sex and other parts of our one-way-ticket called life.

Suicide Notes… The Spoken Word of Christopher Brett Bailey played at the Shoreditch Town Hall until 4 May

Photo: Shoreditch Town Hall