Despite living in a society where we are more connected with each other around the world more than ever before, it is ironic that many of us are also feeling a disconnect with those physically around us. While we spend our time taking the perfect selfie, instagramming that delicious dinner and finding entertainment on dating apps, we seem to be getting lonelier and lonelier.
Presented as part of the 2016 Midsumma Festival, Intoxication shows just how deeply affecting one person's loneliness can be to everyone around them. "We live in a world of fast-food connection: quick, junky, and not particularly nourishing. It’s a bizarre thing, to be so connected, but still so unable to connect, when it should be easier to connect with the people around you, but in actual fact, it’s harder," writer of Intoxication, Christopher Bryant explains. "The play is about the ways we pursue happiness, myself included. If I’m lonely, horny, bored or drunk I can just download an app and meet someone in half an hour flat. It's about social anxiety and the fear of being alone that rules modern society, but in particular modern gay society."
"It’s a difficult but necessary discussion, especially since in the homosexual community, we’re not afforded the social freedom, perhaps of heterosexuals. By that I mean, aside from the usual set of open desires and shared interests, everyone you meet can’t necessarily be a viable romantic option by virtue of presumed sexual preference. In this regards, the play is about learning to be alone, and that being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it can be better than a lot of negative relationships."
Bryant's creative process in staging this play has been quite a unique one, which began with being hit by a car head-on in Berlin in 2014 and receiving an acquired brain injury. "I was struck by traumatic amnesia, and when I woke up found it impossible to connect with people, simply because I couldn’t remember who anyone was, who I was, where I was, and so on. I eventually gained my memory back, but slowly and in pieces", he says. "When I got to Melbourne I was told by my doctors to not be surprised if I never wrote again. I did though."
"Writing Intoxication helped me to process an intense amount of my trauma; but the play isn’t solely about the accident. While the accident features in the play itself, it’s only really in there because there are a lot of bizarre parallels to the topic at hand, and it serves a purpose within the context of the wider narrative. More than my recovery, I think, it’s about people’s reaction to my recovery and my accident, which then linked in to the overall theme of connection."
"I'm hoping audiences will walk away finding humour, horror, sadness and empathy with what they've just seen. Hopefully not all at once, because that would be confusing. Intoxication is about finding the humour in these concepts, because nobody wants to be yelled at for an hour. I’m not interested in criticising anyone for falling into these social media traps, if I was, I’d start with myself, as I use it just as much as anyone else," Bryant says. "I’m just interested in exploring as many sides to this bizarre and emotionally fraught-sided die as I can. If anything, it aims to really question the belief that you “need” to be in a relationship. What I suppose I’d like to leave the audience with is a statement I found in our Facebook research group (social media, how appropriate!): Life isn’t a party, and that’s okay.”
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton
Season: 27 January - 7 February | W1: Wed - Sat 6.30pm, Sun 4pm. W2: Wed - Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre