GOD/HEAD (Bristol)

Chris Goode has performed this show about twenty times and these are the last few nights of this interesting and extremely thoughtful piece.

Goode tells us that he has an historical relationship with depression. That when he once took medication, he felt at one with the world, indeed, with the universe. And that in April last year – and again this summer in Edinburgh – he felt blindingly certain that God was with him. That he was truly seen. The problem is, he doesn’t believe in God. What follows is some part of Goode’s exploration of his experience and his feelings about it, working each night with a different guest who provides a kind of “Parkinson”-cum-buddy to Goode’s exposed witness, here, Zoe Bouras.

Billed as “autobiographical documentary”, this is a truly fascinating show.[Goode’s trademark gentle manner and quest for transparency and truth are put right at the front and are themselves under the microscope. He shares the deeply personal while going (in his own words) a bit “Radio 4” and interviews a neurologist who talks about brain chemicals. Music, silence, the semiology of gesture – they all have something to contribute.

Goode doesn’t have all the answers – and, as he is at pains to remind us, this is only about him. He knowingly undercuts his feeling with rationale – the conflict that names the show. He vents his anger at the “medicalisation of sadness” – a short, but powerful observation that offers a key to another door, perhaps for another day.

The finale demonstrates with startling effect how the way in which faith is extolled (for example, Speakers’ Corner-style sulphur and brimstone v. hippy-chick cuddles and pipe music) will always affect the way it’s received. This is powerful and disturbing, placing a clear trust in the audience to go with their own feelings and opinions and not be spoon-fed.

This is not an easy show – as we’re gently warned up-front, it is at times “difficult’. Goode is “not not OK” and remains a theatre-maker who will keep hunting down the god-(less?) honest truth.

GOD/HEAD, Bristol Old Vic Studio 1-3 November