Jordan Brookes begins his show by refusing to come out from behind the curtain because someone in the audience giggled at the words’ coming out’.
Once he does come out, he’s bemoaning the head mic he has been asked to wear. Throughout Bleed these two things never let up: Brookes’ spikiness, and his discomfort. These are both of course cultivated, and part of the show. Mostly. Probably.
Right off the bat, Brookes’ walks, skips, and prances around the stage barefoot with manic energy. He frequently makes use of his wiry frame and slightly weaselly features to contort himself freakishly, to hilarious effect. All his jokes are focused on himself, or the self. There’s no politics. No light banter. The scope is grim and narcissistic by choice.
Brookes’ is without a doubt an absurdist performer with a strong philosophical bent, who is trying to deconstruct his stand-up just as much as he is trying to structure it. The mad theatrical assault that is Bleed is strung together around a joke that caused a break-up, and the existential horror of being trapped in one’s own head. The ‘story’ of the act progresses as Jordan falls deeper into despair and up his own proverbial arse, allowing Bleed less gags and more darkness, less words and more body, and infinitely more prancing and screaming. There is also a cunning use of technology, which is better left a surprise.
Bleed is a strange, relentless, and frequently hilarious tirade. It has its pretentious points and disturbing moments, but your desire to remain seated and watch Brookes’ collapse should easily overpower the instinct to flee.
Jordan Brookes: Bleed, Pleasance Courtyard, 15-26 Aug, 8.30pm