Hear Me Raw dissects the culture of ‘clean eating’ through a semi-fictionalised monologue based in the personal experience of its performer. Questioning the logic of whether raw smoothies and matcha provide any real solution to deeper emotional problems, Daniella Isaacs blends her real story of acute anxiety and distress with an imagined identity as a food blogger. As ‘Green Girl’, Isaacs evangelises about the need to remove dairy from your diet, replace caffeine and deny sugar, with all the zealotry of a convert. But the stability of this identity is disrupted by the interventions of concern from family, friends and clinical professionals. Isaacs’ clean eating obsession, watched over by the sinister figure of now-disgraced prophet Belle Gibson, grows into a recipe for distress, a diagnosis of Orthorexia Nervosa, and a familial rift.
Alongside its expose of the sometimes-worrying orthodoxy of clean eating adherents, and the modern obsession with demonstrable ‘wellness’, Hear Me Raw also reveals more general problems. Isaacs, graduating from drama school at the start of her story, embodies the anxieties of the modern twenty-something, particularly in the industries of theatre and performance. Her bullshit job typing up casting calls for ‘hot ex-girlfriends’ is a clear reference to the pressures of conforming to industry ideals, and to the unrealistic expectations for young performers that stifle the industry. Encouragingly, there seems to today be a greater awareness of the importance of diverse bodies in theatre, film and television, and a slowly building intolerance for retrograde casting practices. Here a young actor discusses the gulf between her expectation of fame and success and the realities of trying to get there, within the frame of a show that itself gestures towards that same frustrated expectation.
Isaacs suggests at the close that she had previously promised never to make an autobiographical show. Hear Me Raw is defiantly autobiographical, and is at its best when it abandons ‘acting’ in favour of personal testimony. Its central performance is not a dramatic role, but a sharing of a personal story, and a repudiation of the pressures that provoke the quarterlife crisis.
- Lewis Church
This diagnosis is based on a preview performance at Hackney Showroom, London. Hear Me Raw runs throughout the Fringe at Underbelly George Square.
Links relevant to this diagnosis:
“Clean eating” How good is it for you? – BBC News
Belle Gibson Court Case – Guardian
The Quarterlife Crisis - Guardian
Lady Parts (Sexist Casting Calls)
Drama Graduates One Year On – The Stage