Harriet Bignell reviews Appetite as part of the Tellit Festival.
Holli Dillon’s Appetite is a funny and touching piece with a slightly unsettling undertone.
My initial impression was, were it not for the program synopsis, I would have had little idea that this is a one women play about a clown with bulimia looking for love…However, as the play progressed I found this didn’t really matter.
Dillon is a speechless and oddly endearing character who walks a tightrope between charmingly quirky and downright peculiar.
Devoid of any of the usual ‘clown signifiers’ – curly wig, bright red grimace etc – once one knew to look for them, Dillon did emulate various clown like mannerism from her exaggerated movements to her over acted emotions.
The eating disorders manifest themselves through periodic gorging sessions. These sometimes end in a deliberate rejection on Dillon’s part, such as her flicking marshmallows across the stage and making an unwitting audience member traipse round picking them up.
Other times it is a bodily rejection where she simulates revulsion at the three curlywurlies she has simultaneously stuffed in her mouth and these then re-emerge in what is a dribbly and uncomfortable few minutes for the audience.
Featuring Appetite as part of Tellit! storytelling festival seems a curious decision given that this 45 minute performance invites more questions than it answers in the way of a story.
This is an interesting dynamic, however, for a piece that, by default of being in this festival, should be telling a story as it invites the audience member to fill in the gaps.
My friend walked away speculating that the baby sequence in which Dillon tries desperately hard not to wake a sleeping infant could have been a metaphor for the fierce persistence of eating disorders – never quite dormant, never quite put to sleep.
This play prompts an interesting discussion, certainly begging more questions than it answers, and leaves you trying to tease deep meanings out of Dillon waddling round stage in a duck imitation with rubber gloves on her feet.
Dillon has set the bar of cryptic, quirky and compelling for this festival; it will be interesting to see what more it has to offer.
The Tellit Festival continues across London until For more information see their website: https://tellitfestival.designmynight.com/
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