15 January 2016

Overshadowed at Theatre503 was emotional, tense and excellent


Who would have thought that a play about Anorexia could be so compelling? There was enough in the brief description on the theatre's website to suggest that there might be and then there was the reputation of Theatre503 to rely on. It was my favourite theatre at the time for good reasons.

Overshadowed was only on for a week and sold quickly but I was quick too and managed to get a seat for the Friday show before it sold out. Being Friday I was Working At Home so it was an easy jaunt early evening from Richmond to Clapham Junction and then a brisk walk to the theatre. I got there around 7:15pm, for a 7:45pm start, which was enough time to grab a pint in the pub downstairs, The Latchmere, before moving up to the reception area for the theatre. This had been repainted since my last visit, though I am not sure that I would have noticed that if I had not heard about the refresh on Twitter beforehand.

Overshadowed gave us a very personal look at anorexia through the eyes of teenager Imogene, played powerfully by Roseanne Lynch. Helping to tell her story were her mother, younger sister and the disruptive boy at school who seems to be the only person who understand her.

The final player was Imogene's inner voice, the one urging her not to eat and to loose the pounds. She was played menacingly by a caterpillar like figure who crawled, comforted and cajoled. She also spoke in rhyme which was even more menacing. We and Imogene could see and hear her but nobody else could.

The play opened at the end in a hospital and then told us how we got there, which was a surprise. In the middle Imogene grew distant from her mother and sister and found solace, of a sort, in the casual indifference to life of the school bad boy, they met when they had both skipped school. He too had been dealt a bad hand in life but he accepted his future with equanimity.

Apart from the incident at the end which led to the hospitalisation, the story was carried by dialogue rather than action and that dialogue was frustrated, sad, angry, dismissive and even happy at times, all of the deep emotional swings you would expect from a teenager amplified by the anorexia. It was an emotional roller-coaster but one I was eager to stay on to try and understand the loops and swings and also to see whether it would end with steady braking or a sudden crash.

Overshadowed was typical of the sharp challenging theatre that had made Theatre503 my favourite. As long as they keep putting plays like this on I'll keep going to see them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are welcome. Comments are moderated just to keep out the spammers and all valid comments are published, even those that I disagree with!