Forget the cosmopolitan. Adapted by Tom Stuart from Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s autobiography of the same name, I Am Not Myself These Days is three parts hedonism, one part heartbreak, revealing a New York City of grubby glamour and reckless substance abuse. We’re a long way from the Manhattan of Carrie Bradshaw and co.
Josh, aka Aquadisiac, is an advertising exec and drag queen, taking to the streets each night in his armour of corset and stilettos. The show follows him as he knocks back vodka, totters from gig to gig and falls headfirst for Jack, a crack-addicted male escort who charges big bucks to cater for the bizarre kinks of his clientele. Their respective vices soon send their relationship spiralling, plunging further and further into New York’s murky underworld.
Stuart can’t be faulted in his commitment to the piece. Commanding the stage alone as Josh/Aquadisiac, he’s glamorous but broken, bruises painted with glitter. Alternating between flashbulb bursts of narration and cabaret-style song, he flings himself around the small space, veering wildly between ecstasy and despair. It’s an astonishing, all-consuming performance.
But it isn’t half wearying after a while. There’s always another party, another bottle of vodka, another load of crack. Even Guy Hoare’s constantly changing lights, at first dazzling, begin to strain the retinas. That’s partly the point, as Josh’s life becomes one long hangover, but by the end it’s only Stuart’s charisma that stops the show, like its protagonist, from running out of steam.