Appetite by Holli Dillon: meaningful, silent performance about love and bulimia

This is a #latereviewduetobusy, but I really want to get the message of it out, so here goes: if you’re in Brighton, you need to see this. If you’re not in Brighton, you need to go there first (by train) and then go see this –> Brighton Fringe, 16-19 May. Here is why:

I don’t know much about clowning, but I know what I like. I like: facepaint (tick), old-school music (omg, so much “tick”), translating hard topics into theatre visuals (tick!) and audience interaction (TIIICK!!!). Based on this show, clowning really does it for me: you have a clearly experienced performer, who will use sounds, but not words; the performance is thoughtful, fairly intricate, but still carries an air of spontaneity due to having improvised elements within.

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Appetite (formerly known as Appetite for Destruction) was devised by Holli Dillon and Alexander Parsonage and produced by Holli Dillon and Finger In The Pie. It chronicles Holli’s journey through bulimia in way that is simultaneously funny and touching. We laugh at her stuffing her face and spitting it into a bucket with metallic noise, laugh so hard that we may cry (possibly have cried, I admit nothing!). Her body movement is expressive; her face, eloquent; her eyebrows deserve a poem on their own. The improvised bits I mention are firmly wedged into the overall structure of the piece, and tempered by music: one of the high points came when I saw her play the audience AND hit the beats in the melody, creating a narrative that mirrored the song. This, right there, was a sign of great performance for me. (Plus, she gave me a marshmallow on a fork, I may be biased.)

The best part of the whole thing is – this was still a scratch (I saw it as part of InHouse Festival). I repeat, THIS WAS STILL A SCRATCH. Which means the level is high indeed. A 30-minute clowning performance which is compelling, immersive, easy to stage (set to tour, apparently, which is unsurprising) and immensely watchable. What more to want? Get your bad self down to Brighton, while Ms Dillon is still easy to see on cheap tickets…

Here is the trailer:

… and if this post was triggering or you need further information on eating disorder, seek help via eating disorder charity Beat, or the NHS.

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