nytheatre.com review by Keelie A. Sheridan
August 12, 2011
In theatre we are often privy to the points-of-view of several characters, all of whom pursue their own agendas based upon their experiences and beliefs. Solo performances that focus specifically upon the experiences of one individual provide the opportunity to experience first-hand the one-sided personal account of someone else’s story. The telling of any story is biased until additional perspectives are considered; without narratives from other participants we experience events as they were experienced solely by our storyteller. This type of theatre seems especially fitting for the sharing of intimate and personal information, as is certainly the case in Delphine Brooker’s Craving.
Craving reads and plays almost like a diary entry, following the protagonist from the end of her high school career at home in Canada through an extended romp in Europe, interning in Germany, studying in France and then country-hopping with a friend before returning home to continue her studies. The piece follows her search for love and meaningful interaction with men, her relationship with her family and the evolution of her disordered relationship with food and body image. Brooker details her transformation from a purging high-schooler under her parents’ careful (but not too careful) watch to an anorexic undergrad living on her own in Paris; ultimately she offers some insight on the long and ongoing healing process one undertakes when conquering these issues.
The Cherry Lane Studio Theatre is the perfect venue for this sort of show—cozy and intimate with a casual vibe. The bare set and minimal costume changes allow for full focus on the performance and the script. As a piece of theatre, Craving covers exactly what you’d expect a play about eating disorders to cover, and not much else. As an autobiographical account, there is certainly value in sharing one’s experiences honestly, as Brooker does, but an audience member who’s seen a film or play dealing with similar topics is not presented with anything new or different to consider. There are strong storytelling influences throughout the piece (limericks, anyone?) mixed with bouts of more traditionally dramatic writing, which at times causes rifts in the performance—exaggerated recounting of events mingles with first person reenactments in a way that feels disjointed. Brooker’s monologue shifts frequently between narrative and quotation, which is effective for conveying information, but is not always fully engaging. The few instances where she speaks directly to the audience are by far the most powerful.