Drunk Lion

Chris is on the precipice of an existential crisis. He’s just moved to a new country, he doesn’t speak a word of the language, and to top it all off his new Spanish tutor is an alcoholic lion. Wary yet intrigued, he uncovers his new feline friend’s jaded philosophy on love, life and loss over drinks in Mexico’s oldest and dustiest cantinas. Inspired by his real life fish-out-of water experience living in Chiapas, Mexico, writer/performer Chris Davis twists a year’s worth of anxiety into an absurdist one-man novella that will prove to be one of the strangest things you will see at this year’s festival.

Great thought, literary talent and a wealth of complex experiences have been poured into Drunk Lion, but it’s the sheer audacity and ambition of piece that turn it from potential disaster into potent success.

Drunk Lion is a purposefully disorientating experience. The piece plays out as a conversation with the audience, Davis shifting constantly between characters, languages and thoughts in the sharing of his surreal experience. The hour moves at a remarkable pace and the frantic nature of the performance - the speed at which Chris talks alone - often leaves you racing to keep up. This is effective in giving us a taste of the dazed feeling that his semi-fictionalised character is faced with, but it is occasionally frustrating when themes and ideas are picked up then dropped without the opportunity to fully come to fruition.

While the concepts crash together with mixed success, consistency can always be found in Davis’ characterisation. He has a gift for creating believable and hilarious characters with just a couple of well-observed mannerisms. A facial tic here and a shaky knee there all give the impression that he knows the world he wants to evoke in our minds. Of course he does - he’s lived in it. His way with words only adds to the power of this.

In the end though, what puts Drunk Lion ahead of the pride is its aptitude for noticing the little moments in life, which are always there but rarely expressed. There’s a particularly resonant moment at the end of a wild evening when Chris realises that he’s able to hear past heartbreak in the depths of the lion’s drunken growl. Whilst it could be argued that the show is somewhat overstuffed with ideas, when those ideas land… oh boy, do they land.

Great thought, literary talent and a wealth of complex experiences have been poured into Drunk Lion, but it’s the sheer audacity and ambition of piece that turn it from potential disaster into potent success.

Reviews by Joe Christie

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A lonely alcoholic lion spends his days drinking himself into oblivion in a cantina, until he meets Chris, a young foreigner learning how to speak Spanish. The unlikely pair forge an intoxicated bond over life, love and alcohol. ‘Hilarious and philosophical, surreal and vividly descriptive...’ (StageMagazine.org). ‘...humorous as it is tragic, poignant as it is absurd...’ (NoLaDefender.com).