Life. It’s a mess isn’t it? All those things flying at you: exams, and work and people and... and what if it all makes you just a bit too anxious? Just a bit too unable to cope. With the disorder. And the chaos. And the unpredictability of it all?
Caroline Horton (a 2013 Olivier nominee for her solo work You’re Not Like Other Girls Chrissy) and company welcome you to their production about anorexia. You are welcomed to this excellent show about a complicated and Mess-y disease. And you should know that it’s not about looking like Kate Moss and it’s not about being thin.
It’s about control. About knowing precisely when and precisely what you will eat. It’s about the rituals. And the feelings they inspire in you when everything else is fickle. The warmth that exudes from the piece heats even the loneliest moments that Josephine (Caroline Horton) inhabits in the depths of her anorexia. Even as it detaches her further and further from her life, the hope that it will one day be better never quite fades.
Josephine tells her story accompanied by the temperamental and diva-ish Sistal (Seiriol Davies), who, with his wonderfully crazy hair and crazier interjections, provides an excellent comedic foil to the seriousness of Josephine’s experiences. Mousy, sweet Boris (Hannah Boyde) scuttles around the stage after his friend; his sadness and frustration as the person on the outside trying to help is tangible and no doubt likely to strike chords with anyone who has been in a similar position.
The talent of, and rapport between, the company infuses the stage. At no point do they sensationalise or glorify the disease; it’s not overly maudlin, and so perhaps some might say overly simplistic. Several years of struggle is a lot to cover in 70 minutes, after all. And it isn’t all fun and games on the stage; the pacing is so excellent that the audience is ushered from laughter to silent tension within mere heartbeats.
But by utilizing humour rather than bleakness, it illustrates a hopeful, moving struggle to step out from under the duvet and relinquish a little control on life. Because it is messy after all. But that mess can be beautiful, just like this production.