Sunday 10 March 2024

Eat Your Heart Out review

Two sisters meet for lunch every Tuesday. They discuss the important things in life: food, fashion, money, and gossip. They are the ladies who lunch; the ladies who are well-off and well-dressed and really have nothing to worry about. Until now. In Angela Buckingham's Eat Your Heart Out, Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins play two siblings who find themselves forced to question life's bigger mysteries when tragedy befalls.

Buckingham's script borders on the ridiculous, as we witness Beatrice and Eleanor try making sense of the world around them and looking for a greater purpose to the affluent lives they lead. She allows them to make some observations and realisations but effectively show their hypocrisy and arrogance through the way they treat the service staff at the restaurant they are dining at.

Bock and Hopkins have a good understanding of their characters and while they are exceptional performers, you can't help but wonder if director Peter Houghton has made them overplay the sisters, where it begins to feel like we are watching a farce. If the wild gesticulations, loudness and lack of awareness were toned down, then we could focus on what they are saying and give the two characters the opportunity to experience some real transformation or change.

Throughout the sisters' lunch, a waitress tends to their needs, refills their glasses, prepares the myriad of dishes they request and cleans up their mess. Clare Bartholomew is perfect in these roles of servitude, expressing her frustrations and helplessness as to how she is seen (and not seen), treated, spoken to and valued, not only by the sisters, but everyone else at the restaurant and also by society as a whole.

A clever lighting design by Matt Scott and set design by Sophie Woodward lets us see behind the dining area and into the kitchen of the restaurant, and further highlight the absurdity of how little these women actually care for what is going on around them, even when they are speaking about it.

There's plenty to admire in Eat Your Heart Out but Houghton seems to have bitten off more than he can chew in this instance, as there is a disconnect between the text and the performances that results in this production being an ineffectual exploration of life and its meaning.


Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton
until 17 March | Wed 6:30pm, Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4pm 
70 minutes
$35 Full | $25 Concession
Bookings: La Mama Theatre

Image Credit: Darren Gill

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