Eat Me is a play that takes on the difficult subject of anorexia, putting an alternative spin on the debilitating effects of the illness – on those suffering from it directly, and also their nearest and dearest.
Brought to the Fringe by Matrix Theatre Company, the show charts the lives of Libby, Jonathan and Kate, who are each diagnosed with anorexia at different stages in their lives. The production looks at various vectors: the triggers in people’s lives that cause them to lose control, the reactions of their family and friends, and also how each of them deals with the diagnosis.
Suzanna Walters plays Anorexia itself, and the anthropomorphising of the disease is a great addition to the script. It allows us to visualise the illness, as Walters hovers over her victims, speaks to them, and eggs them on to ignore their carers and continue to give in to her. Each character goes through a struggle with her, eventually getting better. The culmination of the play is in a support group, where the three meet and swap stories; they acknowledge that they are not quite there yet and it is an ongoing process, which is refreshing to see.
However, on a number of occasions, the script felt like it was labouring. A lot of the dialogue feels repetitive – things we have heard before, in multiple monologues from each of the characters. Audiences who pick this show are likely to have some awareness of the condition, but the way the play was structured meant that the narrative went over the diagnosis and eventual aftermath quite a bit. This became tedious, as the length of the play isn’t short. With some editing and tightening of the script, Eat Me could be much more hard-hitting.
Interesting premise, though. And if you have ever suffered from something like this or had a loved one go through it, you will appreciate the grit and strength portrayed through the behaviours of the three protagonists.