Theatre review: Hear Me Raw | Eggsistentialism

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Each of these new one-woman plays could almost have been written as a diptych.

Hear Me Raw

Underbelly George Square (Venue 300)

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****

Eggsistentialism

Summerhall (Venue 26)

****

Both look at the effect the internet is having on how we regard our own lives, ­specifically in relation to women’s self-image and the level of expectation they feel is placed upon them.

One speaks of fertility and motherhood, the other of body image and ‘clean eating’, and the pair even share an identically ­pointed scene where the character is assailed by demanding and contradictory headlines on the screen behind them.

In Hear Me Raw, Ella Isaacs is looking well, her skin as glowing as the bright white T-shirt she wears, her hair as neat as the table stacked with packets of chia seeds, tubs of ferociously expensive matcha powder and cartons of almond milk before her.

Ella is Green Girl, a food blogger, and she’s here to give us a presentation on ­wellness, on how to make ourselves the best we can be, by eating only the healthiest of fashionable foodstuffs. But Ella isn’t well. A few spots of beetroot on her glistening top are the first physical example of the mental disintegration she’s experiencing, her perfectly 21st century obsession with control ever more unsustainable the harder she tries to maintain it.

This decline is made ­vividly, terrifyingly apparent in the perfectly controlled tone and execution of this one-woman piece, made all the more striking by Daniella Isaacs relating a variation of her own ­story, of the crippling orthorexia (essentially, the unhealthy pursuit of a healthy diet) which once ­controlled and corrupted her life. It’s an honest, insightful and ultimately uplifting work, much like Joanne Ryan’s Eggsistentialism.

In the latter work – also autobiographical – the easy-going humour is played up more, but the sense of fear that Ryan’s body may not be behaving how she’s been told it should echoes Isaacs’ obsession. Approaching middle age, Ryan worries that “I’ll be lucky if I have enough eggs left to make an omelette,” and her fertility concerns are worked through with recorded inserts from Ryan’s own mother and cartoon presentations on the screen behind her. That this important and relatable story is interwoven with that of Ireland’s recent family planning history also elevates a thoughtful personal piece into something more universally political.

Hear Me Raw until 27 August. Today 2:40pm.

Eggsistentialism until 27 August. Today 1pm.