City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Mess, Traverse Theatre, Imaginate Review


By Irene Brown - Posted on 15 May 2015

4
Caroline Horton & Co and China Plate present Mess.jpg
Show Details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Company: 
Caroline Horton & Co and China Plate
Production: 
Caroline Horton (writer), Alex Swift (director), Iain Goosey and Ed Collier (producers), Flametta Horvat (designer), Andy Purves (lighting designer)
Performers: 
Caroline Horton (Josephine), Seiriol Davies (Sistahl), Hannah Boyde (Boris)

The “…particularly thin elephant in the room” that this new play from Caroline Horton is tackling is a version of her own experience of and recovery from anorexia.

Horton has created and plays a character called Josephine who is putting on a play about anorexia. She is doing this with the help of Boris (Hannah Boyde) her loyal and supportive male chum, and Sistahl (Seiriol Davies) who provides music, songs, sound effects and Josephine’s inner thoughts throughout from a keyboard set within a mini Palm Court.

The stage is dominated by a candlewick covered water tower that’s ascended by a fairy lit ladder and topped by a beach brolly all of which is designed to symbolise the perceived idyllic remoteness and detachedness that can be experienced through the illness. This among many other theatrical elements of the play are explained through direct speech to the audience and in the self- referential style of this highly comic and absurd cabaret set around the dangerous anorexic rituals of banqueting on meagre apple slices.

The slow process of recovery through panic, anxiety and the strange hallucogenic power of controlling one’s body to this extremity is shown honestly and fearlessly with both sensitivity and humour by Horton. The language is fearless, unflinching and delivered with vulnerable bravado while being neither didactic nor self –pitying, taking the audience on undulations from raucous laughter to stark sobriety.

Dressed in what is a combination of a Jean Paul Gaultier matelot and a D H Lawrence ideal male in his beautiful short fitted jacket, the flamboyant Seiriol Davies creates a powerful presence on stage with a singularity reminiscent of the Sparks keyboard player but bringing his own equally singular style as a human sound machine. The Biggles helmeted Boris with his painted on tie and waistcoat is played with a touching and comic vulnerability by Hannah Boyde. Indeed they are three utterly diverse characters who go to create a unique theatrical experience with an important message.

The play’s creation has been informed by medical expertise and a spokesperson from the UK eating disorder charity B-eat is quoted as saying “Eating disorders thrive on secrecy and shame. Mess brings the illness out in to the open…”

Mess gives no neat happy ever after ending - rather a feet on the ground reminder that “No one’s ok all the time”. It tackles this sensitive topic head on while entertaining all the way. A pretty smart trick!

Age recommend 13+
Thursday 14 – Saturday 16 May