Hear Me Raw

Created and developed by Daniella Isaacs and Rosy Banham; written by Daniella Isaacs

LIPSINK in association with United Agents

Soho Theatre

From 17 October 2017 to 21 October 2017

Review by Sandra Giorgetti

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"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!" Sounds funny, even desirable, when it comes from the lips of the sassy Mae West.

But too much of a good thing can also be destructive, as it was for Daniella Isaacs who found herself suffering with orthorexia nervosa, an illness I had not heard of until seeing her show, Hear Me Raw. Becoming ill from healthy eating sounds so unlikely but that is the effect of this obsessive disorder, an ugly sister to anorexia.

Issacs's show starts as a well observed satire on health vlogs, reminding me of a talk I attended which was presented with such enthusiasm and conviction that I, cynic that I am, nearly went home to start making my own fire cider, a concoction attributed with having near-miraculous preventative and curative properties.

Issacs delivers with the same engaging zeal but certainty goes into a rapidly declining spiral signalled by the red beetroot stain on her perfectly bright white t-shirt.

As she embraces healthy living without limitation, its rules come to straightjacket and dominate meal preparation and eating. She lives in self-imposed exile in a world in which foods designated 'clean' may be consumed whilst 'dirty' foods are not just given a wide berth but demonised.

With the ardour of a true convert, her proselytising of the right way to eat alienates those close to her, whilst important family events are missed to avoid eating dirty foods and restaurants become battlegrounds.

Outrageously expensive ingredients pedalled by a profit driven health food industry are bought with money she doesn't have as a substitute for genuine feelings of self-worth. In the face of commonsense and all the evidence around her, her healthy eating reaches extremes of addiction exemplified by the tragic-comic snorting lines of turmeric powder.

That Hear Me Raw is both self-mockingly funny and movingly sincere is a testament to the talents of its creators LIPSINK's Daniella Isaacs and Rosy Banham who also directs.

A naturally anxious person, Issacs was easy prey for a wellness industry fronted by high profile role models like Gwyneth Paltrow and Belle Gibson (now exposed as a fraud) and she now pays the price of her vulnerability in dealing with a range of lasting medical conditions.

Issacs's show succeeds in comically delivering a powerful note of caution without moralising and an uplifting ending in spite of the unattractive legacy of believing in a wellness movement that needs a health warning.