Friday 18 January 2019

REVIEW: Binge! - HOME, Manchester

BINGE! is another specially commissioned piece for the 2019 Push! Festival; a two week celebration of North West talent. Developed with Barbican Open Lab in collaboration with HOME, it’s also Mighty Heart Theatre’s last ever show

It started with a song. Lisa and Sam delivered a musical take-down of consumerist culture and mass marketing that includes a cheerfully up-tempo selection of recognisable advertising slogans.

Bold, bright, loud, fearless, shameless and very, very yellow; Binge! is a lot of things. There’s no easing the audience in and participation was rewarded. Immediately there was a strong sense of their infectious joy and frenetic energy.

In amongst the silliness were beautifully constructed sequences that described Lisa’s binge eating disorder. She flipped between gratuitous descriptions of food and details of the personal pain that pushed her to escape through food, while an ASMR-ridden, [Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response] absurdist reenactment of her eating took place alongside. That side-show of intense comedy was a neat construction that served to break up the heavy emotion and, simultaneously, deepen the edge of despair that suffused the performance.

The surreality of the show only built from here with Fearne Cotton masks, manic tap dancing and an eerie soundscape that represented a truly heartrending pain.

All of this was very well done but my favourite part of this show was seeing the joy these two woman felt for each other. Lisa and Sam both had their turns to be centre-stage and, if you do see the show, then I encourage you to look over at whoever is standing just to the side. Their eyes just shine with love for each other.

As I mentioned, this is the Mighty Heart Theatre’s last ever show. Art and creativity takes so much out of you and it might never give anything back and you might end up with nothing left to give to anyone or anything else. Lisa and Sam’s final messages are to Sam’s unborn baby girl, Mabel, who they hope will know her worth, and know that it is good to dream but that it is okay to let things go.

The advertising material for BINGE! promises truths on addiction, food, friendship, motherhood and cravings, it promises a show about finding your voice and speaking your truth. About triumphing through trauma. And quite honestly it doesn’t really deliver on any of these. Not really. They all make an appearance in some form or another; some feature heavily, others get a passing nod and none of them really connect to form a cohesive whole. There are undeniably moments of perfection but everything feels very disjointed and ultimately underwhelming. There is one promise, however, that is delivered; ‘compassion and connection’.

The very last sequence saw two fringed firefly puppets floating serenely across the dimly lit stage while a disembodied voice pronounced that she has nothing profound to say. Instead she iterated the messages of love and worth and connection. This show is a loving farewell to a partnership and an affirmation of a friendship.

BINGE! Doesn’t quite do what it says on the tin.

Reviewer - Deanna Turnbull
on - 17/1/19

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