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Overshadowed – New Theatre – Review – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival

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Overshadowed New Theatre – Review by Frank L.

Written by Eva O’Connor

Following her success in Saoirse, her award winning play for a single actor, Eva O’Connor returns with a more substantial piece for five actors. While Saoirse dealt with the complex issues facing a teenage girl with an unwanted pregnancy, Overshadowed navigates some of the issues which arise for a girl and her immediate family and friends when an eating disorder, in particular anorexia nervosa, chooses to make its presence felt.

Imogene is a “sparky, vivacious and outgoing” teenager. Her parents’ marriage is not great and her dad walks out on her Mum leaving them to fend themselves. Already there had crept into her life a “new best friend” Caol she is invisible to her Mother, sister and anyone else. Caol, like convolvulus, entwines herself around all parts of Imogene’s life and she suffocatingly repeats her mantras of the horrors of eating, the need to be constantly skipping and the omnipotence of the weighing scales.

Eva O’Connor is Caol and although she has only four limbs, like other humans, as she entwines and encircles Imogene she becomes as if she was an octopus with eight limbs. This coupled with body movements which seem to have come from some subterranean existence making her a presence to be obeyed and feared.

Inevitably the increasing withdrawal of Imogene into a world which neither her family nor boyfriend can comprehend creates a whole series of other crises which Imogene considers has nothing to do with her. She is locked in the embrace of Caol.

O’Connor is to be congratulated in attempting to dramatise some of the complex issues that underly eating disorders and in particular anorexia nervosa. The device of making Caol, the manifestation of the disease for Imogene, emphasises the alienation which Imogene feels towards her family and friends.

The flexible set of Deirdre O’Dwyer consists of several rectangular box structures which are manipulated to create bed room, kitchen, school playground and various other spaces. The props are minimal and the entire production maintains an appropriate pace as Caol’s influence increases. O’Connor in tackling unwanted pregnancies and eating disorders in her plays is placing a welcome spotlight on social issues which society, in particular so called “family” members, find difficult to air.

This play does not contain the answer to the problem of eating disorders but it ought to reduce the fear and prejudice which is common when they are the subject of discussion. It is to be welcomed as a demanding but accessible telling of one young lonely girl’s struggle with the demon Caol.

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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