Escape from Bellevue

Saturday, July 7th, 2007 | All Things, Arts

At the Village Theater on Bleecker for “Escape from Bellevue,” an autobiographical “rock ‘n’ roll odyssey” written and performed by Christopher John Campion, front man of the New York-based indie rock band Knockout Drops.

Campion was the star of the evening: the trajectory of his tale is familiar to anyone who has ever watched an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music“: from rise to fall to redemption. With admirable charisma, he wove together highly personal stories of the band’s origins in Long Island, his series of failed romances, his Manhattan rock star lifestyle, and the increasingly frequent drug and alcohol binges that ultimately threatened to destroy his life. In between vignettes, there were hard-rocking songs by the band – amplified at near-painful volumes – and a few prankish video and animation shorts.

Escape from Bellevue

Comedy is tragedy plus time: the show’s title refers to Campion’s three hospitalizations at the infamous Bellevue mental hospital — the second of which ended (crazily, allegedly) with his being the first man since 1963 to smooth-talk his way out of psych ward confinement. In his retelling, the episodes play out like a series of high-spirited highjinks before the inevitable sobering reckoning; one cannot help but sense how things could have taken a much more dire turn if not for the timely intervention of concerned friends and family.

On the strength of this show, Campion was signed to a book deal with Penguin’s Gotham Books. Look for Escape from Bellevue and Other Stories, coming to bookstores in 2009.

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