Eat Me is the inscription on the cake which , when consumed, causes Alice in Wonderland to grow to a dangerous size. Yet this new play by Godfrey Hamilton, is not just a cautionary tale. It’s a gentle but powerful piece and it examines the dissolution of identity, the extent to which we can cope with loss and forgive past slights and the dawning awareness of our place in society. All of this is achieved with genuine insight and wit.
The narrative focuses on the relationship between three residents of a Los Angeles apartment block all of whom have some involvement with acting. Robinson is the most successful but his career, and indeed his life, has been halted by a shattering loss. His efforts to cope with his grief has induced a kind of amnesia.
His landlady, Mrs. Berkovitz, still resents that her gender limited the progress in the 1950s film industry that her talent deserved. She brings Robinson together with Curtis; a less successful actor he scrapes a living as a waiter and a funeral orator. Although he seems to accept his professional status he is having to adjust to the fact that being middle-aged means that he is becoming, in effect, invisible to the rest of his community.
The minimal approach taken by director Jonathan Best creates no distractions. A bare stage with few props and an almost ambient soundtrack allows us to concentrate on one of the best performances of the year from Mark Pinkosh who plays all three roles.
Pinkosh does not use mannerisms to distinguish between the characters but creates vivid individuals. He makes clear that Robinson’s loss is not just personal but affects the wider community which is deprived of his capacity to care. The sheer pleasure that Curtis derives from his day-to day actions shines through his performance. It shapes his understated philosophy: he cares because someone has to.
Eat Me is one of those rare productions where all elements - writing, direction and especially performance - combine to give a completely satisfying show.