Bite Me is a delightful picaresque performance centring on food. In his director’s note in the program, Anthony Skuse writes that the title reminds him of Alice in Wonderland, of the bottle with the label ‘drink me’ tied around its neck, an almost magical invitation to consume. “In Wonderland, food is an agent for change and transformation,” he writes. That principle is realised in this show. In the ten monologues that make up this show, food brings people together, tears them apart, and is a key ingredient in the recipe that makes up the delicacy of human interaction.
These ten monologues were devised at the Fresh Ink Writers’ Retreat in Bundanon in 2013. The diversity of voices in these performances is striking, and the way Skuse has blended them together to make the show a coherent whole quite remarkable: comedy becomes tragedy becomes delicate reminiscence. The only prop used in the show is a table: appropriate, given the theme. While the table was occasionally distracting and maybe a little overused – and I was a bit worried it was going to break! – the sparseness of the setting suited the piece very well. All these different voices had a place around this table.
I had two favourite pieces. Food Baby by Kyle Walmsley was hysterically funny and yet surprisingly vulnerable. Julia Rorke played her role – a somewhat neurotic girl trying to convince her boyfriend not to break up with her – with great style and attack, managing to be both hilarious and heartbreaking. I also really loved Facon by Felicity Pickering, a kind of slam-poetry esque piece performed by Kate Williams, confessing her love for meat to her trendy hipster vegan boyfriend. It was funny and clever and also it rhymed, which was super impressive.
Some of the pieces tended a bit too far towards the poetry end of the spectrum, such as Jake Brain’s Tell Me, which, while beautifully written, wasn’t necessarily that theatrical. Some might have been better suited to such a medium, like Emily Sheehan’s Eating Sunshine, which, while it had some beautiful moments, might have been heightened in the sparser poetic form. Also, a warning: Keir Wilkins’ piece George is wonderfully written, but it is SUPER traumatic if you are a dog person. I am, and as such found it really hard to deal with – it took me a while to recover, which made it hard to focus on some of the pieces following. And also maybe I will have nightmares and I might have to spend the next forever hugging my dogs.
But overall, this was a fabulous evening. I was really impressed with the writing in all the pieces, and I look forward to seeing more works from these ten young playwrights on Sydney stages in the future. Anthony Skuse has put this production together beautifully – it flows wonderfully, with no sense of jarring. There was a lot in here that reminded me of the gorgeous play Food which was on at Belvoir a couple of years ago (which, if you read my review of that piece, you will know is high praise). Thoroughly recommended.
by the writers from ATYP’s Fresh Ink program
Director Anthony Skuse
Venue: ATYP Studio Theatre, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
Dates: 5 – 22 February 2014
Tickets: $30 (Early Bird Tix ($20)
Duration: 100 mins (no interval)