When the news came through that Chris Goode was bringing a new show to the Bristol Old Vic, I was one of the first to ink the date in my diary. I first saw Chris in March, performing the one-man show The Adventures of Wound Man And Shirley, which was a near-perfect and charming production about the alienation of teenage years.
God/Head is a very different experience to Wound Man And Shirley, though. It is mostly a series of monologues (some presented as dream sequences, some as sermons), and they are linked together by a musical theme.
The question posed by God/Head is not so much whether God exists, but how we come to ask ourselves questions of spirituality, and how these intertwine with the issue of mental health and science. It’s certainly a thought-provoking exercise.
While mostly a one-man show, Chris has decided to enhance God/Head by having a different guest on stage with him for each performance, meaning each evening is slightly different to the others. The effect is a sort-of chat show format, with the guest asking questions to try and help Chris come to some conclusions. But since the guest is mostly led by cues presented in envelopes, it feels rather contrived and therefore misses the idea of spontaneity that having a different guest should generate. I didn’t feel the guest brought anything to the show, and in fact I felt she rather detracted from Chris’ performance as she spent much of the time on the stage (through no fault of her own) not really having anything to do.
God/Head is not an easy watch. At 90 minutes straight, it appears as a lot of disjointed thoughts, and a lot of setting of the scene – eg, a great deal of preamble spent telling us who Zoe (his guest) was, which was not relevant to her part in the show. But just because something isn’t easy to watch, doesn’t of course mean it cannot be good to watch.
But I will be heading over to the Tobacco Factory on 26 November to see his show Hippo World Guest Book, which is on for one-night only, because I'd like to see more of what he does. Info here.