HEALTH

Stegosaurus // ES Productions

The breadth of shows engaging with eating disorders at the Fringe in 2017 reflects the rising rate of admissions and treatment for anorexia, bulimia and newer, less clinically defined conditions. Presenting her story through a simply illustrated and focused monologue, Ersi Niaoti documents obsessive bingeing, harsh denial and destructive behaviours and their impact on her life. Tiny moments reinforce the everyday reality of conditions like these - a long pour of coke into a bucket like the sound of a purge, and the flick of a lighter an obsessive distraction. Her performance recounts a story familiar from several other shows, the continual denial of her own body’s needs and a warped sense of her own health and attractiveness. It focuses on bodily detail, on the bile and liquor of the condition, rendered in sharp language. She describes her personal climate as arctic and her visible bones as her jewellery. The bony ridges of an emaciated frame give the piece its name, a child’s observation on the changes in a loved one’s body.

The rise in eating disorders, amongst men as well as women, has been linked to the continual comparison engine of social media and shifts in popular culture. Obsessive gym going, personal grooming, and the obsession of taking the always best-facing picture perpetuate and reinforce a culture the encourages unfavourable measurement of your worst against the best of others. Clean eating, thinspiration and Tumblr goals lead more and more to a culture like that referred to in Professor Renee Englen’s psychological research as ‘beauty sick’. And whilst there are no simple answers to public health crises, continual comparison distorts perception. To observe something is to influence it, a continual pressure to change your body in the hope of better results.

Niaoti’s monologue focuses on her very personal experience of anorexia, bulimia and depression, but whilst the metaphor and language of Stegosaurus is affective in its subjectivity, the experience it documents is an increasingly familiar story.

-       Lewis Church

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Stegosaurus

The Reality of Anorexia – b-eat (Beating Eating Disorders)

NHS Digital - Eating Disorder Admissions

Eating Disorders Rising All Around the WorldEating Disorder Hope 

Eating Disorders in Men - Guardian

When Beauty Obsession Becomes A Disease – Pacific Standard Magazine

Facebook Use and Poor Body Image - UNC Healthcare

Mobile / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile marks the second installment of Paper Birds Theatre Company’s trilogy on social identity. Performed in a disused caravan before an audience of nine, the play aims to explore the emotional ambivalence caused by social mobility. After a brief, somewhat awkward ‘name game’ on deck chairs outside, the guests are invited in, offered biscuits and other hospitalities while our host gives us an overview of her situation. Her story is a familiar one: after the abrupt termination of a long term relationship, she finds herself without a flat to live in or a safety net to catch her. She is forced to return home. Perhaps in attempt to salvage some sense of progress, she shuns her mother’s actual home in preference for the caravan instead. 

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

Stress-related mental health problems affect one in five primary care workers. Four in five have trouble sleeping. These are the realities of working in today’s NHS, according to mental health research by Mind, and they form the backdrop to Monologues of a Tired Nurse.

AND THE ROPE STILL TUGGING HER FEET / Caroline Burns Cooke

AND THE ROPE STILL TUGGING HER FEET / Caroline Burns Cooke

Abortion is still illegal in Ireland, as it was during 1984 when the Kerry Babies scandal raged forth from the intertwined powers of church and state. It was a cruel culmination of a logic that imposes shame on women’s bodies, on their sexual activity whilst excusing men, and on their ability to choose to not follow through with an unwanted pregnancy. For all the difference between then and now, on the day that I saw And the Rope Still Tugging Her Feet, #TwoWomenTravel was trending.

FINGERING A MINOR ON THE PIANO / Adam Kay

FINGERING A MINOR ON THE PIANO / Adam Kay

Adam Kay left a career as an obstetrician six years ago. In Fingering A Minor on the Piano, he shares observations about the realities of working as a doctor, creating a picture of the conditions and pressures that sit behind strike action.

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE / Lynn Ruth Miller

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE / Lynn Ruth Miller

Lynn Ruth Miller is 82, and she's been doing stand-up for 12 years. The focus of This is Your Future is ageing, and it features faulty hearing aids, fractured limbs, replacement hips, mammograms and colonoscopies. It also discusses the joys and perils of geriatric dating – google it and you'll find a range of websites aimed at 'senior singles', although Miller suggests the obituaries are a good place to find out who's newly available.