Brigitte Aphrodite kicks a glittery platformed heel through the cosy convention of generic job titles by needing at least half a dozen words to describe what she does. Punk feminist showgirl poet singer comedian… maybe… ish.
I think I know what I’m expecting as I make my way to a seat in the cellar of Foodies.Rocks for the gig/Q&A organised by Warts and All Theatre. The unmistakeably sparkly Brigitte is moving amongst the audience members applying glitter to cheekbones and chatting casually. It seems like a good laugh is on the way with maybe some thought provoking awkward moments thrown in. But there is something about the glitter I can’t quite put my finger on…
Brigitte introduces herself and then her tall dark and handsome guitar wielding sidekick – Quiet Boy. They make quite a couple on the cosy stage. She is a little explosion of gothy glamour: silver platforms, black sequins and a spray of raven hair. Correspondingly Quiet Boy’s grey shirt and black jeans let him fade into the shadows Brigitte is bursting from. They work beautifully well together.
Briefly we are left to ponder the nature of the relationship between Bri and Quiet Boy and in a different kind of show it might almost have been a running gag through the whole performance – a comical story within a story with repressed and overt sexual tension.
But in this show she announces reassuringly: “actually he’s my long term partner Gaz” and you get the impression that honesty is being taken seriously tonight.
Brigitte tells us she is going to ease us into her performance which contains some parts of her show My Beautiful Black Dog – a more elaborate examination of her life and mental health – which has been touring and was a success at the Edinburgh Fringe. Black Dog, we are warned, takes the audience on a journey of highs and lows that it would not be responsible to inflict on us without the main show’s support system in place (it includes a chill out space where people can reflect on their feelings). They would try to keep this taster compassionately light.
Bri is a witty and accessible poet, firing out cleverly chosen but familiar language, veering in and out of song to suit the moment. Her poems report her feelings in an unfiltered and uncontrived way and avoid the temptation to tie everything up in a neat poetic knot with a moral, solution or analysis. It’s in this way she leads you step by step through a dismal wander in a shopping centre deep into the heart of a spectacular panic attack.
And by the time we are there with her it is spectacular: the theatricality of Brigitte Aphrodite is in full bloom with her hair thrown over her face and wide wild eyes staring beyond the audience as though the fourth wall had never been broken. Meanwhile Quiet Boy interjects with jagged guitar chords and echoing vocals: the embodiment of rock and roll backing singer empathy.
Creshendorius is a song that deserves special mention as Bri inflates the room with full lunged joy and the awkward moment does come as the boys are invited to stand up and shake their bits in a song about shimmying.
At the end of an emotional number Brigitte asks us if we are all right. The stage lights are catching on her glittery cheeks and for a second it looks like she has been crying. We must all look like we have been crying but we haven’t because we have got Brigitte looking after us, turning tears into glitter.
- Bri and Gaz returned to the stage after the gig for a Q&A session lead by Chris Elmer-Gorry of Warts and All Theatre, they talked about future plans for My Beautiful Black Dog which include a tour
- At the Q&A it was revealed that the origin of the glitter is that Bri had been obsessed with it since childhood when she would rub Christmas cards on her face to get the glittery effect
- You can find out more about Brigitte Aphrodite here